Friday pitcher Chad Lyons arrived at the field 45 minutes early, presumably to claim the field for his team in some sort of ceremonial ritual that involved his old high-school soccer cleats and a cigarette.
It worked. Friday took the 2013 Homegrown Kickball Classic, 7-5.
Rainy conditions throughout the week forced the game to be played away from its usual location, Chester Bowl. After a 20-minute search for car-floormat-bases, the action was underway at Observation Park.
Friday player Jon Choi led off the game by reaching on an error. Heather Dean was thrown out at first base on the second play, but decided to stay on base anyway. A few pitches later, Saturday coach Paul Lundgren brought to umpire Rick Boo’s attention that Dean was still on base. Boo confirmed that he called her out, but then said since she had been there a while she might as well be allowed to stay.
That decision ultimately padded Friday’s score by two points. After Ryan Nelson, dressed in lemon-lime attire, flew out — which should have been the third out, ending the inning with no score — Andy Pletcher singled to drive in Choi and Dean. The usual Homegrown kickball controversy was thick from the get go.
Saturday countered with a run in the bottom of the first when Paul Connolly scored a split second before a tag-out on third base ended the inning. Connolly had reached on an error when Scott Millis failed to successfully field the ball while holding his beer, which resulted in Friday Coach Eric “Heiko” Edwardson cussing Millis out.
No one scored in the second or third innings, but there were plenty of arguments and errors to keep things interesting.
Chris LeBlanc scored a run for Saturday in a wild fourth inning, tying up the game at 2-2. Saturday had the bases loaded when a baserunning error by Lane Prekker ended the inning prematurely.
Friday got going again at the top of the fifth, when Choi and Dean scored their second runs of the game.
The coolest moment was probably when Lyons accidentally hit Saturdayer Jacob Swanson in the sweatshirt while trying to throw to first. As Swanson walked dejectedly off the field he said, “I shouldn’t have had my hood up.”
Friday strode a safe distance ahead in the sixth with two more runs, securing a 6-2 lead. It was a tough inning for Saturday, with Heather Dean and Ryan Nelson’s double play knocking out two Saturday Crunchy Bunchers.
Saturday began to come back in the seventh, after a scoreless inning from Friday. Anders Lundahl and Derek Delgado both singled to start the inning and eventually scored.
At the top of the eighth, it was anyone’s game. The score was 6-4. Tensions were high. Pitchers’ eyes were mud-caked. Jello shots were jiggling. Ari Norrgard scored for Friday, boosting the lead to 7-4.
At the bottom of the ninth, Saturday needed three to tie. Dan Branovan singled to open the inning. Prekker followed with a two-base kick, lifting spirits. Victory was in reach. It was as dramatic as one of those games in Remember the Titans, or Mighty Ducks 2.
Prekker made it home, but there was a controversy over whether he was safe or not. The verdict was no. Saturday was still behind 7-5. The bases were loaded for Paul Whyte, but the game ended in anticlimax when he flew out, securing Friday’s win.
The honor of MVP went to Ryan Van Slooten of the Friday team. His response, along with “It’s been a long year of hard work, improving my game,” was “Wasn’t Kyle co-MVP with me?”
Yes, he was – kind of. Kyle Maclean got an honorable mention for diving headfirst into home plate.
Least Valuable Player this year was Chris LeBlanc, “for playing atrociously at third base,” as his own coach remarked.
Worth noting: There was an argument voiced that Brandon Helberg should be LVP for falling on his face so much when he kicked.
Also worth noting: Saturday had 12 players while Friday had at least 24.
Best individual insult goes to Ryan Nelson, directed at Lane Prekker: “Not bad for the third-best washboard player at the kickball game.”
The two coaches – Heiko for Friday and Lundgren for Saturday – shook hands like champs after the game.
Heiko had this to say: “The long winter has ended. Friday’s victory has brought forth a new spring.”
Lundgren had a response, as well.
“We always seem to be outnumbered when the game is at Observation Park on crappy days,” he remarked. “I think it’s because Saturday bands are playing later and they’re afraid they’ll catch cold before the show.”
*If you notice any errors or have additional information to add to this article, please let us know. Nicely. Or not nicely. Whatever. It was really cold and muddy. We did our best, okay?
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