Homer Alaska - Sports

Story last updated at 5:12 PM on Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Glory for the Growlers

By Lindsay Johnson
Staff writer


Photographer: Lindsay Johnson, Homer News

Growlers team members and supporters celebrate being No. 1 after fighting out of the loser's bracket to claim the City Tournament title over defending champions Beluga Lake Lodge. In back: Jenny Lush-Fonkert, Matt Verbitsky, Josiah Campbell, Jed Fonkert, Tod "T-Rad" Radmaker, Brandon Grochow, Dale Banks, Sean "Cheese" Cullerton and James Hollowell. In front: Steve Smith, Tory Rockefeller, Ori Badajos, Syverine "Beaner" Abrahamson, Edan Badajos, Sue Rennolds, Dan Bernhardt, Renee Weddle, Andrea Huyck and Sarah Sullivan.

According to a Las Vegas gambling expert, two teams — Riptide and the Growlers — had 2-1 odds of winning the 2011 Homer Softball City tournament.

Defending champions Beluga Lake Lodge had 5-1 odds of taking it all. Though a historically strong team, BLL hadn't performed exceptionally well in the regular season play.

When it came down to the playoffs, the team came out swinging with an 11-9 victory over the regular season-winning Growlers in their first match-up Saturday.

On Sunday, BLL posted a victory over Riptide while the Growlers went on to beat Kharacters/Café Cups, Spenard Builder Supply and Riptide before meeting BLL again that afternoon.

Leaving Riptide in third place, the two teams — one red, one blue — kept the party at Jack Gist Park going. Tied 8-8 at the end of regular seven inning game, the Growlers held BLL scoreless in the top of the eighth. With one out and runners on first and third in the bottom of the inning, Sarah Sullivan hit one in the gap between second and the shortstop to bring in Dan Bernhardt and win the game.

With one loss each, BLL and the Growlers faced off in an "if" game to decide the winner of the double-elimination tournament.

At the bottom of seven close innings, BLL led 15-14 but the Growlers claimed a dramatic victory when Tory Rockefeller crossed the plate on a home run by coach Edan Badajos.

"It's the greatest Growlers season ever," exclaimed one fan from the stands.

On upsetting the long-running league champions, Badajos said, "We played great all year. I knew we had the players and the team to get back to the championship and win. We just had to play good and we did."

Sponsored by Homer Brewing Company and the Otter Room and formerly known as the Bay Sliders, the Growlers took their first city title in their more than 15-year history.

"It will feel rough in the morning, but right now it feels great," said Growlers player Sean Cullerton after his team's fifth game Sunday. "We played hard."

Sarah Sullivan and Edan Badajos took the women and men MVP awards for the tournament.

Matt Verbitsky received two separate recognitions for his dedicated volunteering with the league and the park.

Though the tournament is over, softball players will be able to play league ball in August this year for the first time. Most teams are already set, but by paying the $45 registration fee and signing a waiver, anyone can hop on for a few more weeks. Games begin Friday and will be held three times per week.

For more information, look up "2011 Homer Softball Association" on Facebook.

Lindsay Johnson may be reached at lindsay.johnson@homernews.com.