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Sanger firefighters react after beating Sanger police 20-12.

Sanger police Sgt. Jason Boust made a prediction the night before the inaugural Guns & Hoses Battle of the Badges Softball Game.

“We’ll smoke the firefighters tomorrow,” he said, after the City County All-Star Football Game on June 14 at Deran Koligian Stadium. 

However, it was late — about 10:30 p.m. — and Boust had no way of knowing his rival, the Sanger firefighters, would field players like engineer Chris Waddle, who inadvertently completed a near full flip after his charge to first for a single.

“The call me the 270-pound ballerina,” Waddle said after his team beat the cops 20-12 at the Sanger High junior varsity girls field June 15. Waddle had earned the distinction of Sanger’s Firefighter of the Year for 2018.

And Boust, who was three for three when the announcer identified him properly, said, “What did you expect me to say?” Early on, when he grounded out, or something like that, the announcer, who was obviously more familiar with his son, who played in that city county game, identified Jason as Jake.

The contest was all in good spirits, and all first responders appeared to have a good time entertaining a robust crowd of fans, family and friends from all walks in Sanger.

“It’s fun,” Waddle said. “That was a good time. We were talking before the game that we should do this again. This got bigger than we expected.”

The concept started small, proposed initially as an informal pick-up game. Then it got airtime on KSEE 24. People talked. A poster was made. The Sanger Herald ran the flier version of the poster on Facebook that generated more than 60 reactions and was seen by about 3,000 people.

“We may ask for a rematch,” said Silver Rodriguez, Sanger police chief. “They won. They’re good.”

“As predicted,” said Greg Tarascou, Sanger fire chief.

But the goal was friendly competition. And in that, both teams scored. “Every day these guys go out and protect the citizens of Sanger,” Silver said.

And they face danger, uncertainty and are dispatched to incidents that at any moment could turn south.

Silver said Waddle would feel that flip the next day.

Waddle said he was off step when he hit the base. “It was a spring board,” he said. “To a controlled fall.” 

Waddle said he’s not a softball player. “We’re always close with PD,” he said. “But I think we’re closer now.”

Officer Amanda Nelson said she’s played softball her entire life. “I loved playing,” she said. “I hoped we’d win. But I hope we do it again.”

And they may.

Cpl. Ramiro Garza said everybody did a good job. “We burned calories,” he said. “It’s good for us.”

Javier and Erika Elizondo, owners of Mi Linda Tierra Market, staffed a booth providing Mexican food, speaking of replacing those burned calories. And many did.

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