As the wind blew heavy gusts across Observation Park, Homegrown musicians representing the Friday-night bands blew their game-long lead, losing the 2014 Homegrown Kickball Classic to the Saturday team in extra innings by a score of 6-4. That’s one version of the story, at least. No one actually knows what truly happened out there.
For the second year in a row, cruel and unusual weather conditions forced the kickball game from its traditional location at Chester Bowl Park. The new location, a shabby baseball field at Observation Park, had its fair share of environmental hazards, including a 20-foot-wide, ankle-deep mud puddle in between third base and home plate. If anyone was going to score, they were going to have to pay the price.
The game was off to a fairly uneventful start. A tricky double play ended the top of the first, giving Friday its first turn at the plate. After a few whiffs and a few kicks, a pop fly to right field gave Heather Dean the chance to score. With a light-foot, tip-toe across the puddle, Dean was the first over the plate, putting Friday up 1-0.
The wind was blowing hard; making it difficult for any kicker to get the ball past second base. Every pop fly was met with resistance, which gave the ball enough extra hang-time for someone to easily get under it. The road to third base not well traveled.
By the top of the third, and by sheer force of will, Saturday was able to squeak in a run, tying the game up at 1 to 1. But that momentum wasn’t enough to keep racking up points.
Friday pitcher Chad Lyons made a diving catch to end the top of the fourth, and finally put some mud on his bright white Kenny Powers jersey.
“I told you I’m good at sports,” he yelled, as if anyone had any doubts. Friday took the momentum from that clutch play, and went up by another run, ending the fourth inning at 2-1.
A few scoreless innings later, tensions between the two teams began to heat up.
“We’re not chanting nearly as much as them,” said Saturday kickballer, Anders Lundahl. “I think that might have something to do with their early lead.”
The bottom of the seventh ended with Lyons making a mad dash to first, slipping on some mud, spilling his beer, and getting tagged out as he attempted to army crawl the rest of the way.
It was in the eighth when all semblance of order began to breakdown, and mass chaos took over. Saturday kickballer, Lane Prekker was apparently the only one on the field familiar with the concept of tagging up, and an argument erupted over whether or not he was out at second. After a few angry words, he was called safe. That trick only worked once, and he was tagged out at third moments later.
The score was still 2-1 by the bottom of the eighth. The heated arguing only got worse as the game wore on. Before long, it was impossible to tell who was on what base, who was keeping score, and who exactly was in charge of this thing.
Friday scored another run, which was met with more contesting from Saturday. While that argument was being settled, the game continued on in the background. Friday scored again, probably, we think, who knows? By the end of the inning, the official agreement by most on the field was 4-1.
It was the top of the ninth, and things were looking bleak for Saturday. It would be their last chance to catch up or accept defeat. They scored one run rather quickly, which put them within two to tie it up.
With two people on base, and ready to go, a pop fly launched the ball off into right field. In the melee to get the ball to the play, Saturday scored another run. As errors piled up in the Friday outfield, Saturday’s Jacob Swanson made a break for home and tied the game up at 4-4.
The same game that Friday led for nine innings was now headed into the extras. The mass chaos that started in the eighth never quite settled down, and every play was met with contesting from the other side.
Almost immediately, a soft kick off to the right gave Saturday enough time to get two runs in, and for the first time all game, they had the lead at 6-4.
Bottom of the tenth, and Friday would need two more points to get back into a position to win. They would have no such luck, as they had three quick outs at first, ending the game.
“Karma. Pure karma,” Saturday pitcher Bryan “Lefty” Johnson said of their unlikely win. “This is probably going to be a notorious victory. There were a lot of crappy calls, but you have to have those crappy calls, or else it’s not a Homegrown kickball game.”
“It was a good game,” said Lyons. “Then there was a collapse. People started resting on their Laurels and Hardys, and when you do that, sometimes Saturday sneaks one out.”
“I’m not really sure what happened,” said Saturday coach Paul Lundgren. “I know that somewhere around the eighth inning, we were behind. Then chaos ensued. Somehow, by the end, Saturday decided to win.”
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