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Homegrown Kickball Classic 2015

Duluth Homegrown Kickball Game

After sloppy conditions forced the two previous kickball games over to Observation Hill, the 2015 Homegrown Kickball Classic made a triumphant return to its rightful venue on the fields of Chester Bowl Park.

It was a fantastic day for kickball, and the only thing hotter than the midday sun were the zingers lobbed by Friday Rawkers pitcher Chad Lyons in between plays. There was nothing the Saturday Rollers could do to get players across home plate as the Rawkers shut them out by a score of 2-0.

The Rawkers were a bit outnumbered by the Rollers, with the teams rostering 31 and 25 players, respectively. Musicians more or less covered every inch of green in the outfield. Most pop flies and line drives were doomed for an easy out, but that didn’t stop anyone from swinging for the nonexistent fences.

With the crowd of musically inclined athletes jamming the infield and most of the outfield, the first several innings were a series of fairly easy catches and a few lucky tags. The arguing on the field was constant. At the top of the fourth inning, Friday at the plate with one out, there was some confusion about whether or not a double play had occurred at second. Saturday coach Paul Lundgren was able to convince the much put upon official, Rick Boo, into ruling in his team’s favor.

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Bottom of the fourth, with the Rollers at the plate, Brian Wells kicked five or six foul balls into the crowd. After taking a razzing from Friday over his Bill Cosby sweater, Wells finally directed a ball into the field, only to be caught by Ryan Nelson at first base. Several plays later, a line drive nearly took Scott Millis’ head off, but was caught by Cory Coffman with a knee scrapping power slide to end the inning.

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In the top of the fifth, Coffman reached on an error and advanced on a bunt single by Kyle MacLean. Millis drilled a shot to the left side of the infield that was nearly caught. Umpire Boo ruled the ball had been trapped, resulting in the first run of the game and giving the Rawkers a 1-0 lead.

Saturday up to kick and looking to answer Friday’s run, Mark Glen fired a shot down the line toward first. As he sprinted with full force, he was aggressively tagged out before reaching the base and driven face down into the dirt. A few plays later, a line drive from Paul Whyte was turned into a double play for Friday, ending the sixth inning.

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It was around this time when a mysterious heckler began berating both teams on the field from behind the backstop. She deployed a sustained barrage of incoherent screaming as those around her wondered what to make of it. At one point, she jumped into a wresting match between Jake “Dinny” Paulsrud and Jacob Swanson before going back behind the fence to continue the shouting. A minor altercation turned to violence as she wielded a glass bottle and swung at those trying to stop her. There were no injuries in the incident and she left the field as the crowd applauded her departure.

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Top of the seventh, a few runners were able to make their way across the bases. A pop-up to center field led to several errors on Saturday’s part, which gave Jon Choi the opening he needed to make a break for home. With a bloody, bandaged-up leg from an earlier injury, Choi made it home and put Friday up 2-0.

It was the bottom of the seventh and the Saturday team needed to pull something together. For the first time all game, like a high school kid on prom night, a Roller finally made it to third base. It looked promising for the Rollers and perhaps gave some hope that all was not lost. A big kick into left field gave Saturday its first chance at putting points up on the board. Those hopes were quickly dashed as Bill Flannagan came rushing out of nowhere, literally left field, to catch the ball and make it three outs. It was this play that would give Flannagan the title of MVP.

The rest of the game remained scoreless, with no real close calls, just a lot of easy outs. Saturday was unable to close the gap.

Friday Coach Heiko Edwardson, who celebrated his 40th birthday on the day, explained his team’s strategy as “getting out there and scoring more points than the other team.” A simple, yet effective approach to both Homegrown Kickball and life. Happy Birthday Heiko.

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