In the end, nobody fully conquered the 7th Inning Stretch Marks Challenge. But that doesn't mean that there wasn't a winner.
Jacob Caralle, 17, a student at Central York High School, out-ate Rick Ostrowski, a native of West York, and the other seven competitors who took part in the York Revolution's eating competition on what the team hailed as Gluttony Day. Caralle walked away with a $50 Revolution gift card, while Ostrowski earned a $45 gift card for his runner-up finish.
Neither of the two finished the mammoth burrito, courtesy of Soul Burrito, which was 18 inches long and weighed 8 pounds. The winner came down to a weigh-off, with Caralle edging Ostrowski.
"It feels great to win," Caralle said. "It was worth all the effort."
Because neither contestant completed the burrito, the triple cheeseburger with Maple Donut doughnuts as buns was left uneaten. Also left on the table because nobody completed all seven dishes was the free noninvasive body-sculpting session at Lebo Skin Care.
The challenge: During Monday's Revolution game against Southern Maryland at Santander Stadium, the competitors were tasked with a challenge arguably greater than the game being played on the field.
For each of the first seven innings, the contestants — all men — were given a new dish that's offered at Santander Stadium and had to finish it before the six outs were recorded to complete each inning.
The contestants were through to the next round, or inning, if they completed the task before all outs were recorded. But if they chose to bow out because they were too full or if the inning ended before the dish was gone, they were eliminated.
Through the first three innings, none of the nine contestants had any trouble downing their courses, despite the menu offering odd combinations of foods, starting with a Legend's hot dog topped with pulled pork and cole slaw, then moving on to soft pretzel nuggets topped with chocolate syrup, caramel, peanut butter and pecans, followed by a mountain of Bricker's fries, seasoned with Old Bay and cheese sauce.
Fourth inning: By the fourth inning, the funnel cake — topped with chocolate syrup, vanilla pudding, whipped cream and a cherry on top — began taking a toll on contestants. Two ended their run at the first-place prize by bowing out, while two were eliminated as a result of an inning-ending double play.
"The funnel cake was the hardest," Ostrowski said. "The pudding made it heavy, and all the sweetness to it."
Two more fell in the fifth inning, which was a slice of Little Caesars Pizza and a salad. Overall, three contestants made it to the sixth inning. Ben Ward, another Central York student, joined Caralle and Ostrowski in the sixth inning but quickly bowed out.
"I thought making it to the burrito was a possibility," Caralle said. "But I didn't really expect to make it to the burrito. I wanted to get to the burrito just to see the massiveness of it."
Strategy: By the third inning, the challenge started to become more mental than anything else. Contestants were just trying to block out the amount of food in their stomachs while continuing to press forward.
Multiple strategies were being used, anywhere from challengers sitting more upright to get the food down easier, to standing up. The standing-up method, utilized by York resident Chris Mummert, didn't quite help, as Mummert was the first one to be eliminated by the funnel cake.
"It's pretty sad," he said of being the first one eliminated. "I felt like I was one of the hopefuls because I'm a big guy, but now I'm the first one out."
He still walked away with a $10 Revolution gift card. Each contestant received the gift card, but the amounts increased by $5 increments the longer people lasted.
Contestants hoped for long top halves of the innings and quicker bottom halves. The reason? More time to eat the food in the top half and a short rest period in the bottom half, but not too long to let the food start digesting and fill up their stomachs.
A total of four contestants were eliminated for not getting their food down before an inning ended, products of multiple double plays turned during the game.
Stadium food: While the competitors were the ones who had the chance to gorge themselves with the food, an interesting aspect of the challenge is that each item was a product of a vendor at Santander Stadium.
Certain items in the challenge are available at the stadium during games, while others could be brought in for a game or a series later in the season.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org