Rocky Top declared champ on turbulent night at park

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR STAFF
mbirchfield@starhq.com
There's always one team that enjoys the taste of victory and the other team which suffers defeat when it comes down to the final game of the league tournament championship.
This is what is supposed to happen and the end result is imminent, but when taking in consideration that it's the open league, anything is quite possible.
"In all my years of umpiring I have never seen a championship game end in a double protest and someone was declared as champion," said umpire Tracy Hardin.
The championship matchup between Rocky Top Carpet and Dino's Restaurant ended in a double protest, with Rocky Top being declared the winner as of Wednesday night.
Rocky Top was leading 27-22 heading into the final inning, then a bomb shell was dropped in the form of accusations of an illegitimate player out on the field.
The game ended in a 27-24 final in favor of Rocky Top, but briefly the team was disqualified because of Neil Church's name not being listed on their roster.
"This is the cheatingest bunch of !@#$%!@#$% and %$#@!!@#$% I have ever had to deal with," said an angry Ab Harrison heading toward the press box.
The victory was short lived by Dino's, after Rocky Top fired back by protesting Robbie Holt's eligibility for his ejection in a game prior during the week.
"They protest one of my player's name for not being on the roster, so I just handed it back to them for their guy getting thrown out the other night," said Harrison. "Turn about is fair play."
Tempers flared and players' displeasure was voiced by all sides, as Dino's argued the fact that Holt had been given the OK to play.
"I was thrown out the other night and I was supposed to be suspended for two games, but I apologized -- I did make a fool out of myself," said Holt. "I like playing down here, but this is my last year. The guy who is in charge of the league is never down here, and you can never get a hold of him."
Dino's managed to get into the championship after beating Larry's Muffler in the bottom of the final frame.
A strikeout to David Daniel made the final out for Larry's in the top of the frame, which caused confrontation about changing the call for the strike zone.
"They were calling the ball hitting the plate a ball all night, and then they all of a sudden decide to start calling it a strike, but we just gave it away in the last inning," said the Muffler's John Degon.
A hit by David Bowers and missed fly-out to the outfielder "Rat" Randy Carr enabled Tim Morgan to come home for the winning run and advance to the championship game.
In the grand finale, Rocky Top opened up by posting 14 runs in the top of the first, as a double down the right-field line from Matt Newton scored the league's MVP Tim Clawson.
Dino's came back to answer the score by driving in 14 runs of its own with a double to the net from Craig Ingram, bringing home Adam Loyd and Jason Hyder.
A five-run lead was captured by Dino's in the bottom of the second, after two home runs were hit by "Jarfly" Lance Dugger and "Iris Glen" Jerry Rouse.
"I should have gotten the MVP trophy. I out hit anybody in the league, but this park and rec is nothing but "Mickey Mouse," said Rouse. "They told Robbie that he could play before the game, and then let him get forfeited."
Rocky Top came back by scoring two runs in the third frame and eight runs in the fourth to grab a 24-21 lead.
A grounder to right field from Shannon Price tied the contest, with Jeff Murr crossing the plate, then a fielder's choice by Neil Church bringing home Mike Mullins for the go-ahead run.
Three runs were added in the sixth frame by Rocky Top, which gave them a five-run margin heading into its final defense of the night.
With "Rino" Larry Absher making the second out of the inning, talks of a protest were beginning to brew.
"I just love everybody," said Absher.
Two runs scored for Dino's in the seventh, with the last one coming off a hit up the middle from Robbie Holt to drive in Rouse, but they would come up three runs shy in keeping the game alive.
The battle was on from that point with harsh remarks and bitter feelings being shared from almost everyone present.
"I'm tired of coming down here and the rules changing from the umpires to the scorekeepers," said David Bowers. "You talk to the park and rec director and then come down here and get a totally different answer. We just want to play the game by the rules, and if we're told one thing then both teams need to go by it."
Rocky Top was eventually rewarded the championship, but it still is not official until the league commissioner makes the final ruling.
"I think Milligan Grocery and Larry's Muffler both showed the most class, so they should get the trophies," said Milligan's "Money" Jimmy Townsend.
"We had a good season and everyone played together, and all the boys we played against were all right, except for that guy from Milligan who needs to learn how to keep his mouth shut," said Harrison. "When you beat a man you beat him, and that's all there is to it."