Now that the Renegades, customarily one of Lawrence's best men's slow-pitch teams, have a new sponsor, things are looking up.
Under the banner of Ray's Liquor, the old Renegades made their debut in the Sunflower State Games this weekend and fell just short of earning a gold medal.
Topeka Natural Light, the defending SSG champs, edged Ray's Liquor, 14-12, in the championship game on Sunday evening at Clinton Lake Softball Complex.
"This is the first time we've entered," Ray's Liquor coach Rob Allen said. "The problem is you have your money in a month ahead of time, and that's tough. We play in tournaments every other weekend for eight months. We play from March to October."
In Sunday's title game, home runs by Steve Hale and Shane Bishop helped stake Ray's Liquor to a 10-5 lead after 4 1/2 innings. But tourney-tested Topeka Natural Light erupted for four runs in the fifth and added five more in the sixth.
"We don't let adversity bother us," Topeka NL coach Darrin Henry said. "A lot of teams take it seriously, but we don't let it bother us. We're too laid-back to worry."
Shortstop Derrick Dawson keyed the Topeka NL attack with a pair of home runs. Also homering were left fielder Kevin Flanagan and left-center fielder Rob Bannister.
Flanagan and Bannister aren't just muscle, either. In the seventh inning, Flanagan made two nice running catches and Bannister made a diving catch to spoil any hopes Ray's Liquor had of coming back.
Curiously, Topeka NL was seeded No. 7 of 16 teams in the medal round after going 2-1 in pool play. Lawrence Slim handed Topeka NL its only tourney defeat, rallying for an 11-10 win.
That game was played at 8 a.m. on Sunday.
"We should have been more awake," Henry said. "It took us an hour to drive over here, but we were flat."
Still, the No. 7 seed took some of the edge off their status as defending champs.
"It probably did give us some incentive," Henry said. "It didn't hurt us."
High seeds helped few teams in the single-elimination medal round. The top five seeds, in fact, were eliminated early. Ray's Liquor, which also dropped a pool game, was seeded No. 9.
In the semifinals, Ray's Liquor outlasted Topeka Gambino's, 22-17, and Topeka NL slugged Lawrence Tyler Const., 16-2.
Gambino's nipped Tyler, 14-13, in the bronze medal contest.
In the senior (over 50) men's division, Topeka Prime Time won all five of its games for the gold. KC Masters collected the silver and Topeka Excalibur the bronze.
In the women's tourney, Pittsburg M&M; Wrecker clipped Lawrence Whatever, 13-3, in the gold-medal game. Lawrence UNO's captured the bronze.
Rain washed out all of Friday games and Saturday morning's scheduled contests, but the meet ran only about four hours late on Sunday.
SSG slow-pitch commissioner Allen Winter credited the city parks and recreation department ground crew.
"They started at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday," Winter said. "There were five of them, and they worked their butts off to get the fields ready."