Everything that makes Big Sur Softball special and unique — its quirky rules, its good-natured and enduring rivalries, its colorful personalities and its many bad bounces — was on display Aug. 20 when The Big Sur Deli defeated The Cold Water Tribe at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park to win the 2014 Open Division championship.
Because the Tribe beat the Deli in the second round of the playoffs, the Deli faced a difficult task — sweeping a doubleheader. The Tribe, meanwhile, only needed to win one of the two games to capture the crown, which had long eluded one of the league’s better teams.
Comprised almost entirely of surfers, the Tribe has been known by other names — including the Roadhouse and the Wild Turkeys — since shortstop Marcus Foster founded the team more than a decade ago. Twice the team has made it to the finals, but both times they came up empty.
The Deli, on the other hand, was started more recently by the remnants of a promising young Ventana team that moved across Highway 1 after losing its sponsorship in the middle of a season. Deli owner Kurt Mayer generously rescued the team, which quickly emerged as a contender with young Allen Villalobos at shortstop. Briefly called the Slicers and later known as “Sur-10-Death,” the team is now simply referred to as the Deli. In 2007, the team won the championship when Taylor Hawthorne knocked in Randle Withrow in the bottom of the ninth of a do-or-die final game.
When the Tribe and the Deli faced off against each other Aug. 19, the sun was shining after several days of misty fog. Slowed by traffic along Highway 1, the crowd trickled into the park as the first game began.
Eying their first title, the Roadhouse jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning when Foster singled home one run and Jeff Carmichael knocked home another with a sacrifice fly. The team opened up a 5-0 lead in the fourth when Ryan Webster and Craig Cox each hit solo "inside-the-park" home runs.
Big Sur Deli takes two from Cold Water Tribe, wins 2014 softball crown
Big Sur Softball
two runs across the plate with a single, and his brother Alberto drove in another with a one-base hit. By the time the third out was recorded, the Deli was up 11-8.
The Deli’s sharp defense kept the Tribe from mounting a threat in the seventh and eighth innings, but in the bottom of ninth, the home team rallied, and loaded the bases with two outs and the top of the order coming to the plate. But a fly ball to Lyons in left field ended the game, and the Deli celebrated its second Big Sur Softball crown by trading high fives in the middle of the field.
The exciting doubleheader this week marked the highlight so far of another successful season for the league. Pfeiffer park will be the site Tuesday, Aug. 26, of the first-ever Big Sur Softball Locals Division championship. The first game starts at 5:10 p.m.
The league’s success would not be possible without the help of many volunteers. While there is not enough space here to recognize everybody who made a difference this season, nobody offered more help than Cody Oliver of the Cold Water Tribe, who tirelessly worked on the field and prepared it for nearly every game.
Others deserving a big thank you include former Burrito Mike Kevorkian, who now works in Fresno but maintains his role as the league’s treasurer; Aengus Wagner and Ira Comello, who both offer a seemingly endless supply of enthusiasm and support, and Martin Palafox, Sr., and Sander Konig, who helped turn this year’s two-division format into a reality.
And last but not least, California State Parks deserves a round of applause for working with the Big Sur community to make a small but truly wonderful softball league possible
— Chris Counts
The Deli battled back as Martin Palafox Jr. tripled home a run in the bottom of the fourth, and moments later, he caught the Tribe by surprise when he tagged up and scored on what looked like a harmless pop-up. Team captain Ira Comello singled home a run in the fifth to make it 5-3, and Alberto Palafox added a two-run single in the sixth to even the score.
In the seventh inning, Christian Cumming knocked in a run with a single to put the Tribe ahead 6-5. The lead held over the next two innings, and when the Deli came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, the Tribe needed just three out to capture their first title.
But with one out, Martin knocking in the tying run with a triple, and moments later, Adrian Duarte drove home the game-winning score with a sacrifice fly to centerfield.
The first game win by the Deli set up a do-or-die, winner-take-all final game.
The Deli scored in the top of the first when Alberto Palafox singled home a home. But the Tribe struck back in the bottom of the inning when back-to-back doubles by Mike Takigawa and Luke Perkins evened the score.
With Brian Palafox supplying a key single, the Deli opened up a 4-1 lead with a rally in the second inning. But a home run in the bottom half of the inning by Webster narrowed the gap to 4-2.
The Deli added two more runs in the third inning when Justin Lyons scored on a force out and Duarte knocked in another run with a double. But the Tribe shocked the Deli in the bottom of the third with five runs. Foster, Perkins,Takigawa and Jason Anderson did most of the damage with key hits. The Deli now led 7-6.
After a sacrifice fly by Cummings in the sixth inning put the Tribe up 8-6, the team was now just nine outs from a championship.
But the Deli wasn’t ready to concede. They came alive in the seventh inning. Andy Perez started things off when he raced home on a force play. Martin pushed two