SAN DIEGO — Empty beer cans were scattered throughout Fiesta Island, reminders of the party atmosphere that had existed earlier in the day.
But by late afternoon, the partying had ceased. Now it was time to get serious about the event that made the occasion: Over-the-Line, a variation of softball.
On one side in the Men's Open championship was the favored Clairemont Surf Shop Hot Rocks, winners for the past two years and three of the past four. Their opposition was the unranked Old Town Mexican Cafe of Encinitas.
The first game of the championship round was an upset. Old Town Mexican Cafe won, 15-14.
The second game went as predicted. The Hot Rocks won the scheduled five-inning game in two innings, 11-0. If a team leads by 11 runs after any inning, the game is considered a "skunk."
So, for the third straight year, the championship team consisted of Chuck Cromar, 30; Willie Matson, 31, and Kevin Murray, 24.
"It seems like the more we win, the more people who play us have nothing to lose," Murray said. "We're expected to win. Second place would be like a loss to us."
In last year's tournament, the Hot Rocks lost their first game of the double-elimination tournament. This year, they did not lose until the first game of the finals. By that time, they needed to win only one of two games for the championship.
Earlier Sunday, the Hot Rocks had defeated Old Town Mexican Cafe, 18-7. But Old Town Mexican Cafe got even in their first championship game.
In losing, the Hot Rocks rebounded from a 14-5 deficit with nine runs in the top of the fifth. Old Town Mexican Cafe scored its winning run in the bottom of the fifth.
"After we tied the first game in the last inning, we used it as a motivational factor," Cromar said. "I brought it up when we went out in the field again. I said, 'Let's do this the next game.' "
And so they did. The Hot Rocks scored three in the first and eight in the second.
Old Town Mexican Cafe was competing in its third Over-the-Line tournament and its first championship game. Its members were Zane Cramer, Larry Michels and Bob Newak, all 24-year-olds.
They had been practicing since winter.
"We are young," Cramer said. "We played above our heads."
In the Women's Open finals, We Expect a Miracle defeated Lay 'Em Flat, 18-14.
The winning team was Johnna Helm, 31; Lynn Matson, 30 (Willie's sister-in-law), and Pam Rankin, 24. The second-place team was Marilyn Medina, 35; Laura McLintock, 32, and Rose Rosas, 25.
Helm and Rankin had been on the winning team in 1980 with another partner, Mary Jo Spears. This year, circumstances were different.
"Pam (Rankin) and I are recovering alcoholics," Helm said. "We wanted to win it sober. It's a real challenge to watch people drink (and not be drinking). I've been recovering for 11 years and Pam will be one year on Tuesday."
How did Rankin cope with the atmosphere?
"No problem," she said. "I kind of blocked everything out. I can't pay attention to everybody partying on the beach."
Lynn Matson, who is married to Willie's brother, said she has been playing Over-the-Line for 10 years. She began playing on her own, rather than at Willie's urging.
However, she proved capable of producing the same results as her brother-in-law.
Men's Open--Clairemont Surf Shop Hot Rocks (Chuck Cromar, Willie Matson, Kevin Murray) def. Old Town Mexican Cafe of Encinitas (Zane Cramer, Larry Michels, Bob Newak), 11-0.
Women's Open--We Expect a Miracle (Johnna Helm, Lynn Matson, Pam Rankin) def. Lay 'Em Flat (Marilyn Medina, Laura McLintock, Rose Rosas), 18-14.
Men's Canardly--Kenyon Machine (Bob Simmons, Greg King, Ron Slocum) def. Still 39 (Ozzie Olson, Fred Galvas, Bob Mofit), 12-0.
Men's Century--Scum (Brian Applegate, Danny Whitworth, Mike Withy) def. Coaster Saloon (Tom Whelan, Glen Shoemaker, Duane Bazzel), 16-10.
Women's Century--Never Too Old (Robbie Cole, Marieanne Perrault, Jackie Burton) def. Dookie's Dinkers (Dian Bartlett, Bonnie Hunstable, Deby Thompson), 14-13.
Men's Cannever--Andy's Ancients (Jack Argent, Don Buechler, Ron Robertson) def. Koala Arts (Don Hodo, Harry Van Buren, Norm Wooten), 11-5.