HYDE CREEK — Forced to play three games in four days because of a rain make-up, the Port Hardy Cubs fell one win short of a sweep last week in North Vancouver Island Baseball League play and remain one game away from clinching the top seed in the league playoffs.
The Hyde Creek Hillbillys jumped out to a big early lead Sunday and went on to a 19-5 win over the Cubs at Hyde Creek Ballpark despite the third home run in as many games from the Cubs’ Chris Lamothe.
On Thursday, the Cubs kicked off the week with a 6-3 win over the Hillbillys despite getting just three hits, thanks to a 13-strikeout complete game from pitcher Curtis Martyn.
On Saturday, the Cubs blasted a shorthanded Port McNeill team 16-3 as Lamothe launched a three-run homer.
The league’s regular season wraps up this weekend, and the playoffs begin with a first-round game between the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds Wednesday, July 20. The playoff tourney wraps up with the championship Sunday, July 24.
Port Hardy needs a win in Tonight’s game or a loss by Hyde Creek Sunday to clinch first place in the regular season. Hyde Creek holds a 3-2 edge in the teams’ head-to-head meetings and would earn the top spot if the teams finish tied in the standings.
Hillbillys 19, Cubs 5
Taylor Galeazzi hit his first career home run and Ivan Hall added a solo shot Sunday as the Hillbillys (5-4) took advantage of early wildness by Cubs hurler Jeff Tarlier to overcome Lamothe’s first-inning homer. Galeazzi added a double and capped his 3-for-5, five-RBI day with a two-run single.
Newcomer Joe Leblanc went 2-for-2 with three RBI, Curtis Carmen stroked an RBI double, and Keith Balcke and Ivan Hall each scored three runs in the win. Lamothe added a double and finished with two RBI and two runs for the Cubs (6-3), and Hugh Connon was 1-for-3 with an RBI.
Cubs 16, Rangers 3
Lamothe’s three-run homer in the fourth inning wrapped up a big offensive day for the Cubs, aided by a depleted Port McNeill team that began the game with just seven players in the field.
The Cubs took advantage of the Rangers’ three-infielder, two-outfielder configuration with six runs in the first inning and six more in the third. Lamothe, Martyn and Lukas Jones each scored three runs in the win. Ed James scored two runs for Port McNeill (2-6), which finished the game with eight players. Jordan Altmiks reached base four times and also scored for the Rangers.
Cubs 6, Hillbillys 3
The Cubs managed just three hits, but made them count as Hyde Creek’s hurlers combined to walk 12 batters in Thursday’s contest.
Lamothe drilled a two-out, three-run home run over Hyde Creek Road and Martyn scattered six hits to keep the Hillbillys at bay.
Tom Cessford led off the game with a single and went on to give the Hillbillys an early 1-0 lead on a two-out, RBI single by Balcke. But the Cubs struck right back in the bottom half with three runs on just one hit, an RBI single by Martyn. Jason Holmes added a sacrifice fly in the frame.
The teams were scoreless over the next four innings as Martyn and Rushton tossed pellets, though both pitchers worked out of some trouble. Rushton overcame four walks to leave five runners stranded from the second through the fourth innings, while Martyn loaded the bases with one out in the fourth before striking out the next two batters to end the threat.
Carmen relieved Rushton for the Cubs’ fifth inning and held Port Hardy off the scoreboard despite issuing two more free passes. But he allowed to more baserunners in the sixth around a strikeout and an infield pop-up before dialing a pitch that Lamothe sent deep over the left-center field fence to give the Cubs a 6-1 bulge.
The Hillbillys added a pair of unearned runs in the top of the seventh. Carmen singled and came around to score when Cessford reached on a ground ball that was misplayed for a two-base error. Taylor Galeazzi then chased home Cessford with a ground out before Martyn closed the door with his 13th punchout of the night.