Ronnie’s Bar and Grill seized the first victory of the Adult Men’s Softball League, Friday, against their opponent Yard Birds in a game at Magnolia Park that ended with a score of 17-7.
While both teams played well, it was Ronnie’s impressive defense that managed to clinch the game. James Nash of the Yard Birds attributed at least part of the loss to the impressive performance of the Ronnie’s third baseman, Jake Martin.
“They’re good, they’re younger—they’ve got a 19-year-old playing third base that was gobbling everything up,” Nash said. “And we’re like thirty-plus. So we’re teasing him: you’re 19, you’ve still got legs. When you’ve got a fresh kid it’s hard to go against.”
While Martin certainly showed his value early and often, it was the fifth inning that seemed to encapsulate the entire game.
It kicked off with a solid hit by the Yard Birds, but chance sent it straight off towards third base. Martin leapt and snatched the ball right out of the air with a diving catch that landed the first out of the inning.
The Yard Birds weren’t defeated, though, not by a long shot. Vincent Ambroselli stepped up to bat, looking for blood. The pitch arched slowly, too slowly, over home plate and Ambroselli gave the ball a solid smack that sent it soaring over the left field fence.
That home run put two on the scoreboard for the Yard Birds and they looked to be riding the high straight into the lead.
But Ronnie’s had other ideas.
Martin picked up a ground ball hit by the Yard Birds down the left-foul line and with a spectacular catch by first baseman and team manager, Steven Grow, Ronnie’s closed out the inning and brought an end to the Yard Birds charge.
“We’re all veterans,” Grow said, speaking to how his team has changed over its seven year history. “We used to practice weekly—religiously. But we’ve been around the block for a while, and with our families and work—it’s hard to coordinate.”
Which is unfortunate, because neither the Yard Birds nor Ronnie’s Bar and Grill set out to join the competitive division this year. Both preferred a more relaxed season, but the lack of participation forced the Community Services Department of Rohnert Park to merge the competitive and recreation Adult Men’s Softball leagues together.
“I’m always up for a challenge. I’m a pitcher, so I’m wondering if I can beat a competitive team,” said Nash. “There’s some real serious business guys out here that travel.”
While Nash is certainly not unique in love of competition, most joined the recreational league as a fun pastime and an easy way to stay close to friends.
“It’s a family thing. My daughter, Chloe Rapp, plays competitive league girls softball,” said Ronnie’s catcher, Robert Rapp. “I love the game. Everyone gets along and we all know each other. Our kids grew up together.”
The Adult Men’s Softball League continues each Friday at Magnolia Park.