Elevate remains on the hunt for the title

Chagrin, sadness, despair… for gone are the Hares

By Than Acuff 

Last Call! You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here. It was a phrase that rang through my ears for the years I frequented the local bars. Those same words now ring true in local softball as the playoffs have begun and we have our first victim as the Hares lost their second playoff game and were eliminated from the post season.

Both the Hares and Elevate were facing elimination going into their game Tuesday, July 25 at Gothic Field as the Hares fell to the Eldo in the first round last week by a bruising score of 37-9. Side note, and page filler, Frank Stichter plays for the Hares and his son, Drew Stichter, who runs and plays on the Pitas softball franchise, avenged his father’s loss as Pitas Meatsticks beat the Eldo in the next game 16-4.

As for Elevate, they lost to the Talk of the Town, the very bar where I first heard the last call sentiment, in the first round. Talk is on quite a heater now having beaten both Psycho Rocks and Elevate to remain in the winner’s bracket of the playoffs.

But that was then, water under the bridge, and it was do or die Tuesday for the Hares and Elevate culminating in a veritable battle for survival, a back and forth slugfest, a grinder of a game, before Elevate eventually emerged victorious.

As Yoda once said, do or do not, there is no try, and Elevate did… about as little as needed to win the game.

It all started with defense as Elevate, the team that has given up the fewest runs all season, came up with a couple key plays in the top of the first inning. Sam Robards, currently on sabbatical because of Meryl Streep, set the tone as he charged in on an infield pop fly to make a reaching grab. Two hitters later CJ Hoover made a leaping grab at third to rob Dan Brown of a base hit, and a fly out left the Hares scoreless. 

Fortunately for them, Elevate suffered a near similar fate. Sure, Sam Reaman walked and scored off a single by Abby McGee, but that was it and we had ourselves a close one to start. It remained that way for another inning, and while defense was solid on both sides, I realized it was more than that. Fact is, both Hares pitcher Sam Lumb and Elevate pitcher Christian Allen were both in the zone and keeping hitters on both teams off balance through two and a half innings. My God, we had a pitcher’s duel… in softball, in the playoffs.

Elevate did finally crack the code on Lumb’s pitching style in the bottom of the third inning. Reaman lit a small fire with a triple to right field and scored when Robards doubled to centerfield. Robbie Holleran followed with an RBI double, and Courtney Bock capped the short three-run burst with a bloop RBI single for a 4-0 Elevate lead.

 The Hares’ struggles at the plate continued in the top of the fourth, while Elevate added one more run when Allen doubled and eventually scored on a ground ball by McGee. Reaman then looked to tack on another run during the play only to get tossed out at home, ending the inning.

Finally, the Hares found some offense, albeit very little, as hits from Mark Bortolin, Kent Fulton and Brian Brown generated a run. But in this game, a run is a run and you get what you get and you don’t make a fret. Which is another phrase etched in my mind thanks to my move from the bars into parenthood. And, no, my time in the bars did not result in parenthood.

Or did it?

I mean literally it did not but perhaps on a more metaphysical level it did.

Regardless, Elevate did manage to add on some more runs to their lead, albeit not many, in the bottom of the fifth inning. CJ Hoover slowed his swing down to double to centerfield and scored on another double by Robards. Elevate did get nailed stretching for home again on an infield grounder, but RJ Spinella came through for the team with an RBI triple and Elevate was sitting on a not-so-commanding 7-1 lead.

So you’re saying there’s a chance. Well alrighty then.

That is until Elevate’s defense stepped up to knock the Hares down. Connor Brown led off with a single and thoughts of a comeback started to seep in, until Elevate caught a pop fly and then turned a 1-6-3 double play on the next hitter causing one onlooker in the stands to comment, “Bunch of damn college athletes on that team.”

The Hares held Elevate scoreless in the bottom of the sixth so there was still a chance, until there wasn’t as they too went scoreless in the top of the seventh to lose 7-1, sticking a fork in what has been a tough season for the Hares. Thanks for the peanuts guys, see you next summer.

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