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A very wiffle weekend

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The Classic Division champions. The Classic Division champions. (Photo courtesy of Wayne Harvey)

Taking the field at Wayne's Wiffle for a Wish

BANGOR There's something wonderful about having a great time for a great cause, and that's just what I did this past weekend.

For the fifth year, I joined the squad from the 'Downtown with Rich Kimball' radio show to take part in Wayne's Wiffle for a Wish. This was the eighth year that WABI's Wayne Harvey has put on the annual tournament, a fundraiser that benefits the Make a Wish Foundation of Maine. In the years previous, the event has raised enough money to fund 10 wishes granted to ill children. Wayne works tirelessly to bring the tournament off every year, and ever with a few last-minute hiccups, he once more pulled off something fantastic.

The tournament features multiple divisions, presenting opportunities for teams of all skill levels to participate. The Open Division is the most competitive, featuring squads with a high level of skill. The Executive Division is the one aimed at more casual players.

And in the middle sits the Classic Division. Our division.

Our previous four years, we were in the Executive Division, winning twice and finishing twice as runners-up. However, this year we moved up to this newly-created intermediate division; we were joined by the Bad News Bears (the team that defeated us the previous two years) and two squads that dropped down from the Open Division the Ice Cold Pitchers and Wiffleocity.

So we were set to face off against two teams stepping down a notch from the high-octane action of the open division and the group that was essentially our wiffle Kryptonite. Not necessarily looking great for our heroes.

But that's why you play the games.

In our very first match-up, I along with Rich Kimball, Ryan Waning, Bryan Stackpole and Bryce Colbeth took the field against our rivals, the Bad News Bears (though I must note that until both teams have won, one could argue that it isn't a true rivalry). Despite our best efforts, we went down, losing the game 8-3 largely due to poor relief pitching and a couple of defensive miscues.

We needed to win both of our subsequent games to have any shot at getting back to the title match. Our next game was against the Ice Cold Pitchers; that's when we really started to get it together. Our pitching rebounded and our bats came alive, combining good batting eyes and timely hitting to put up big runs.

Game three against Wiffleocity was a nail-biter. Their starting pitcher was a wiffle whiz, throwing all manner of baffling breaking pitches; his stuff looked hittableright up until you swung. Still, we had an ace of our own in Bryce, whose pitches were touching 80 miles per hour. And we were grinding out at-bats and managing some timely hits. Ultimately, it came down to a big home run from Bryce and some key defensive outfield plays from Bryan we eked out a 6-5 victory and made our way to the championship round for a second meeting with our old friends, the Bad News Bears.

We were the away team, meaning that we batted first. And did we ever bat. We plated a handful of runs in that first inning, making our previously-discussed strategy (that of starting me on the mound and saving our actual good pitcher for the end of the game) seem feasible. So I threw every piece of flutter soft-toss junk I had in me, floaters and curves that were a strong wind gust away from not reaching the plate at all. But thanks to some great defense and a lot of luck I got through my three innings giving up just a pair of runs. Meanwhile, our patience at the plate and some big hits in big moments helped us gain a lead. Bryce came in and nailed it down with some great pitching and when all was said and done, we wound up on top by a 10-2 final score.

We were the champions again. After a too-long absence, we once more had in our possession the plaque that marked our triumph. And winning against the team that for so long had had our number, wellthat just made it so much the sweeter.

(For the record: the winning team in the Executive Division was the Underdogs and the Open Division champion was the Bomb Squad.)

Taking part in Wayne's Wiffle for a Wish is a fantastic experience, having fun and raising money for a worthy cause. Winning, wellthat's just the icing on the cake.

Last modified on Wednesday, 24 August 2016 13:58

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