Steamboat Springs The big inning, either giving one up or having one, is the key to winning or losing in the Yampa Valley Adult Baseball League.
Tommy Larson has been playing since the inception of the league four years ago, and he said those costly innings made the difference again in Wednesday's final at Vanatta.
The Black team scored four times in the top of the eighth to close the Blue lead to 12-9, but it went for naught largely because the home team used its own big innings in the first and third to create a comfortable lead.
Dave Adler, the winning pitcher, chalked the victory up to something else.
"Experience over ego," he said with a chuckle. "The old farts win."
Several members of the victorious Blue team have played baseball longer than some of the members on Black's squad have been alive.
Taking the oldest trick in the book, the savvy veterans used remarks made by the Black team following last week's semifinal as material to help motivate them to win.
Stuck to the dugout wall were two clippings quoting the Black team as saying they could also be referred to as Team Ego and were confident they would defeat the Blue team with ease.
Never mind the fact that many members of the Black team played alongside the Blue team in the first July 10 semifinal, enabling Adler and the handful of other full-time Blue team players to even make the finals.
"Oh, I said thanks to each and every one," Adler said following the customary post-game handshake.
Adler pitched 7 1/3 innings, giving up five earned runs before being relieved by Brian Bavosi in the top of the eighth.
Bavosi worked out of a two-out, bases-loaded jam in the eighth to prevent further damage. It proved pivotal because the Blue team was lucky to get the bat on any of Perry Means' pitches after he entered the game in the bottom of the sixth, relieving Corey Beck.
Means threw three innings of scoreless ball, striking out 7 of the 13 batters he faced and allowing the Black team to creep back into the game.
However, Bavosi stepped on the mound in the top of the ninth and halted a comeback by striking out the final two batters.
Jeremiah Kiely, starting pitcher for the Black team, said the advantages to playing in an adult league are beneficial win or lose.
"It's just good to come out and work on your skills," he said. "It was fun. You need to do what you have to do to get better."
Several members of the Black Team also play for Steamboat's high school team, so hitting off live pitching in competitive game situations can do nothing but improve their confidence for future seasons.
The growth the adult baseball league has enjoyed over the past four years certainly helps as well.
Larson said he initially had enough for four full rosters, but summer vacations and no-shows depleted three of the four teams, particularly the victorious Blue squad.
However, he said that was unforeseen and people gladly filled in all season, eager to get more playing time.
"I'm glad about where it's getting now," said Adler, a seven-year resident. "There is definitely some good baseball being played here."
Even by the old guys.
To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org