The 28th annual City of Hope Celebrity Softball Game turned out out be one of the wackiest in history. In a see-saw game that saw a couple of lead changes, sterling plays in the field and hitting heroics, NFL quarterback Jay Cutler won it for the Grand Ole Opry team with a quirky last-inning single, 6-5 over the iHeart Radio squad. The game, a tradition of CMA Music Festival, was held Saturday, June 9th, at First Tennessee Park, home of the Nashville Sounds Minor League baseball team. Office Depot served as a supporting sponsor for the game, which raises money for City of Hope.
The crazy contest came down to Cutler, who came up in the bottom of the fifth inning with the score tied at 5 apiece and a runner on third. Radio personality Bobby Bones, pitching for iHeart radio, literally rolled the ball toward Cutler in the batter’s box, hoping for an intentional walk to set up a force play. Instead, Cutler swung at the rolling pitch, made perfect contact, and the ball scooted past the infield, driving in the winning run.
Another football star, former Tennessee Titan Marc Mariani, had given iHeart a 5-4 lead with a two-run triple in the top of the fourth inning. The Opry squad tied the game in the bottom of the fourth, which was scheduled to be the final frame. The fans wanted a tiebreaker, and the game went on, setting up Cutler’s clutch hit in the bottom of the fifth.
The contest saw some standout defensive plays from the Grand Ole Opry’s Lucas Hoge, who also picked up the first hit for the Opry squad, as well as Cutler, who manned the field at shortstop. Radio host Shawn Parr, the Opry’s pitcher, suffered a hamstring injury but gamely played on until being removed by team captain Bill Cody of WSM radio. Lauren Alaina took a tumble over first base after legging out an infield hit for iHeart, but assured the fans that she was fine, if slightly embarrassed.
Also participating in the fun-filled contest were Charles “Chip” Esten, teen star Tegan Marie, Adam Craig, the duo Smithfield and Brandi Cyrus, among many others. Trent Harmon also competed and delivered a moving and well-received performance of the national anthem prior to the game.
The stars were putting forth their best diamond efforts for City of Hope, an independent research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. All proceeds from the Celebrity Softball Game benefit City of Hope.