By Jesse Ferguson
Ackland’s Insurance wins Burford Men’s Slo-PItch crown
On Saturday, September 8th, the Burford Men’s Slo-Pitch League completed final day of the Year-Ender Bender © tournament.
Things kicked off bright and early at 9 a.m. despite some players’ grogginess.
Number one Cement Heads took on Bre Haul, while Tota Farms had the honours with Bon Lane. With a loss, teams would be relegated to the Consolation Round.
Everyone at the ballpark Saturday morning remarked about how chilly it was, The most telling remark was said by Michelle in the Bon Lane supporter section: “It went from July to October in like a week.”
Tota Farms and Bon Lane were first out of the gate.
Early on, Tota’s Tommy Smith leapt for a Bon Lane line-drive to the hot corner– and he came up with the ball in his glove at maximum extension!
Unfortunately for Tota’s, this was apart of a breakout inning for Bon Lane.
Dan Moore tried his best to wake Tota’s up with a three-run blast, but they could not awaken from their daze in time. Bon Lane won the game, but at the same time, likely meant Tota’s won last night’s festivities.
Then we had the big game for a bye to the finals between the #Crunchers and Ackland’s Insurance.
Midway through, Ackland’s Brandon Webster took a fly ball in the outfield and the #Crunchers runner tagged at third. Thinking there was no chance of inducing a throw from Webster, he strolled home, Webster unleashed the cannon, much to the surprise of the runner, Webster threw it all the way home! OUT.
Ackland’s, the four-seed, cruised with that momentum and captured the berth in the final.
Next, number one Cement Heads faced number two Bon Lane, in a match earlier than expected. These teams faced off to take the back way to the finals.
This game was fought between two theories. Bon Lane was going with a tight lineup that kept players warm, while the Cement Heads had 15 players, to keep bodies fresh.
Bon Lane started out taking the lead after a three-run first inning.
“They’re playing so well,” Laura Chambers of Bon Lane said. “But then they can blow it easily, too.”
Bon Lane went dormant the next innings while the Cement Heads came to. The fifth inning saw them score seven runs to take the lead 11-6. Nick Wright, Nate, and Jeff Vansickle scored their second runs of the game.
Bon Lane answered back with a ten-batter inning that scored seven right back. Mike Schooley scored his game-high third run of the game to recapture the lead.
Here’s where they blew it: Bon Lane started to kick the ball around late, letting routine balls fall in and grounders slip through. These errors provoked a late rally from the Cement Heads and that was enough for the win, 19-15.
The Cement Heads proceed to the relegation final against #Crunchers, while the second-place team from the season, Bon Lane, was eliminated.
This marked halfway through the day and players and fans alike hit up Amy’s Kitchen as the Optimist Club set up shop in the pavilion. Alike the multitude of garage sales across Burford, the festive mood was at the Burford Arena Complex. Coffee was pouring in the morning, other liquids at lunch, and burgers and hotdogs stoked the grill. That coupled with the sounds of cheering and clanking of softballs off bats gave the aura of the tournament– the last day of baseball for the town for another year.
After securing two upsets in the consolation round, it set up an unlikely consolation final: Davis Fuels Brewers faced Burford Auto, the seventh and eighth seeds from the season.
Regardless, former Catherwood’s Welder, Vern Tipping had a key two-RBI double for Davis Fuels– perfectly placed down the third-base line. Josh Tait also had a three-run homer, but in the end, it wasn’t enough.
Auto’s pitching by Dave LaForme, coupled with timely hitting proved too much. Burford Auto claims the consolation!
Moving to the championship, Ackland’s Insurance, the hottest team, against the Cement Heads, the number one team all season.
The Cement Heads, employing a quantity of players, were hoping to save gas for the final. And it worked… as here they were, winners of three consecutive games.
Ackland’s used a wrinkle in tournament rules with substitution players (P.O.S.– player-only-sometimes) whom can be inserted into the game. Ackland’s used these players, such as P.O.S. Jason Demunck as well as P.O.S. in-training, Matt Lehmann.
Cement Heads’ bomber Brad Boakes smashed a grand slam out of Diamond B while Ackland’s had a few long homers of their own, including Ray Magda, much to the delight of a section of the audience.
After a long and hard fought battle, we got EXTRA INNINGS in the finals! Burford has adopted a format where extra innings begin with a runner on second and one out. Ackland’s used this new format to a T, scoring several runs.
And when the Cement Heads got to the plate, Ackland’s elected to walk Boakes instead of allowing him to hit. Because he had nine runs batted in for the game!
The tactic was true! Ackland’s pitched around Boakes to hold on to the lead they built to claim the championship! Much to the pleasure of Ackland’s Insurance kingpin, Brian Ackland.
ACKLAND’S INSURANCE WINS THE 2018 YEAR-ENDER BENDER ©
Ackland’s used the substitution rule to “great success” (Borat) although many across the league have cheapened feelings about substitutions, with P.O.S., such as Demunck, who some said could’ve played “They just used the rule that was there,” the ever-diplomatic league president, Mr. Jon S. Chambers said.
In the end, with the use of P.O.S’s, Ackland’s Insurance laughs last, and they laugh best.