Port McNeill shortstop Ed James dives to tag Hyde Creek baserunner Ryan Rushton after catching a ground ball during Sunday's game at Hyde Creek Ballpark.

Hillbillys sweep way to league lead

The Hyde Creek Hillbillys take sole possession of the top spot in the North Vancouver Island Baseball League.

HYDE CREEK—The Hyde Creek Hillbillys took sole possession of the top spot in the North Vancouver Island Baseball League with a pair of impressive wins last weekend.

Jason West threw a complete game and homered as the Hillbillys (4-1) pulled away to an 11-4 win over the Port Hardy Cubs Saturday.

The next afternoon, Tom Cessford threw five shutout innings and Ryan Rushton and Ivan Hall drove in five runs apiece as Hyde Creek pounded the Port McNeill Rangers, 21-2.

 

Hillbillys 11, Cubs 4

West spotted the visiting Cubs a quick 2-0 lead when Port Hardy’s Chris Lamothe followed a one-out walk to Jordan Campbell with a two-run homer in the top of the first inning Saturday. The Hillbillys got the runs back in the bottom half on Rushton’s sacrifice fly and Hall’s RBI single, and the score remained 2-2 until the bottom of the fourth inning.

That’s when Hyde Creek batted around and scored four runs, with Joe Leblanc rapping a two-run single and Rushton adding an RBI single.

Two more runs in the fifth on West’s first homer of the year pushed the lead to 8-2, and three more in the sixth, capped by Hall’s RBI single, made it 11-2.

West, who had cruised since Lamothe’s first-inning tater, did not allow another score until the Cubs touched him for a pair in the seventh. Lamothe led off the inning with a single and eventually came around to score on a ground out. Brayden Demoe walked and scored the final run when Jared Breitkreitz reached on an error.

West improved to 2-0. Rod Romas (0-1) was tagged with the loss for the Cubs (3-2).

 

Hillbillys 21, Rangers 2

Cessford reached base and scored on all five of his plate appearances as Hyde Creek jumped out fast and never looked back.

Cessford’s big day included a pair of RBI doubles, two singles and a walk. On the mound, he struck out only two batters, but scattered four singles and did not issue a walk in his five innings of work.

Hall belted a pair of two-run doubles into the playground in deep centre field and added a sacrifice fly. Rushton finished 3-for-5, capping his five-RBI day with a two-run double in the seventh inning.

The short-handed Rangers were forced to play with two loaner players, including Hillbillys bat boy Clayton Bono. Bono celebrated his 12th birthday by driving in Port McNeill’s first run when he drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the sixth inning, and added a couple of strong throws from his spot in left field. The last one nearly denied Hall his third double of the evening, forcing the Hillbillys standout to shift into high gear to beat the throw and tag attempt by infielder Graham Baker after his leadoff shot in the seventh.

The Rangers (1-5) added a second score in the seventh when Ed James laced an RBI single off reliever Mike Scott.

Earlier, the Rangers loaded the bases with nobody out in the third on consecutive singles by Rustin Brown, Mike Somers and Hugh Connon. But Cessford got a strikeout, a popup back to the mound and a ground out to end the threat.

Richard Balcke went 3-for-5 with a triple, an RBI and three runs scored for the Hillbillys. Nick Webb, a newcomer pressed into action due to the number of missing Port McNeill players, took the loss but threw a complete game and struck out six.