By Joel Priest
For the Silverton Standard & The Miner
Only a pre-game coin toss and last-inning run to end Day 1’s play allowed the defending champs to depart with some dignity, though their crown would later pass to those whom they’d defeated 17-16.
And who were left wondering for a second year, ‘How’d we lose to those guys?’
A model of consistent inconsistency, it became clear in the Day 2 opener that Bases Loaded (Durango) would not repeat at the Mountain Man Softball Classic Presented by KSJC 92.5 FM.
Posting 26 runs—the tourney’s most as of yet—still wasn’t enough for another win, as Romero’s (Silverton) racked up what would stand for an impressive event-best 32.
And though the two extremes made for a fine Sunday wake-up call, the 2010 championship went to the steadiest stampede on the scene—the Ragin’ Rhinos of Grand Junction. Regaining the title they won in ’08, the Rhinos strung up totals of 15-24-18-16-22-19-19 (averaging an even 19 runs per) between last Saturday’s round-robin action and Sunday’s double-elimination bracket play. With almost no weakness in a lineup anchored by power-hitting (and slick-fielding) shortstop Mike Cribari, the Rhinos held New Country Auto (Durango) to just 13 runs in the grand finale.
A new tournament team in name only—most players had played in previous MMSC’s before—New Country had fallen to the Rhinos 19-16 in the winners’ bracket final, but NCA (14.4 rpg) reached the championship by then ousting Romero’s 11-7 in the third-place contest.
Romero’s (13.2 rpg) had previously stopped Slangin’ Ink, 15-14 in the fourth-place game, thanks to second baseman Troy Valdez’s spectacular diving catch of a bad-hop grounder, then clean toss to first to strand the tying run at second.
SI, out of Cortez and a brand-new team to the event, completed Bases impLoaded’s first-to-worst descent with a 22-15 win in the fifth-place test. Shortstop Josh Cornett bashed nearly 20 balls over the outfield fence during the tournament—almost a homer per at-bat—and probably would have done so if not for a series of respect-driven intentional walks on Sunday.
In fact the phrase “home run derby” was often heard as a possible future MMSC side attraction, after witnesses watched the long-ball exploits of Cribari, Cornett, NCA’s Alfonso “Ponch” Garcia, Romero’s Ron Ernst, and BL’s young Lukas DeBolt amongst others.
Once again a special thanks goes out to all who made this year’s event possible, including: event coordinator Kyle Roberts, KSJC — Silverton Community Radio, scorekeepers Brenda and Faith DeBolt, scoreboard scribe Elaine Nelson, and all the players, umpires, and fans for attending!