HYDE CREEK — With the wind blowing out over the left-field fence, the Port McNeill Rangers and the Hyde Creek Hillbillys both took advantage Sunday on the final day of the North Vancouver Island Baseball League regular season.
The Hillbillys, however, got just enough from their small-ball game to post an 8-5 win over the Rangers at Hyde Creek Ballpark.
Fellow Woss residents and 2010 North Island Secondary School grads Taylor Galeazzi and Ryan Rushton each homered and finished 3-for-3 as the Hillbillys closed out the season with a 6-4 record and set up a rematch with the Rangers (2-8) in the first round of the league playoffs.
Jason West went 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs and picked up the victory with three innings of relief for the winners, who opened the playoffs against the Rangers last night. The postseason continues this weekend in Hyde Creek with games Saturday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and the championship final scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday.
Rob Kenny and Nick Russell each hit solo home runs for the Rangers, who took a brief 2-0 lead in the third inning and were tied 3-3 with the Hillbillys midway through the fifth inning.
But Rushton and Curtis Carmen opened the bottom of the fifth with consecutive singles and were perched on third and second one out later when an errant pickoff throw allowed Rushton to scamper home with the go-ahead run. West followed with a single to plate Carmen for a 5-3 lead, which the Hillbillys never relinquished.
Kenny drew the Rangers to 5-4 with his solo blast in the sixth, but Galeazzi’s solo blast to lead off the bottom half kick-started a three-run inning that included RBI singles from Rushton and West and made it 8-4.
Russell provided the final run with his home run in the seventh, but West closed out Port McNeill without any further damage.
Cubs 11, Rangers 1
Last Thursday, the Port Hardy Cubs (7-3) used a seven-run fifth inning to break open a close game and clinch the top spot in the regular season.
The Cubs drew a bye in the first round of the playoffs and will play at 10 a.m. Saturday against the winner of the opening game between Hyde Creek and Port McNeill.
Playoffs this week
Hyde Creek and Port McNeill opened the postseason with a game last night. The winner advanced to face Port Hardy at 10 a.m. Saturday, with the loser of that game facing last night’s loser at 1 p.m. Saturday.
The winners of the two Saturday games will meet for the title Sunday at 1 p.m. Admission is free and a concession will be open at the adjacent community hall.