Reece Lloyd of Port McNeill prepares to gather a throw from pitcher Ryan Rushton (foreground) on a play at third base during the Junior Hillbillys' debut exhibition game at Hyde Creek Ballpark Sunday.

Juniors step up to the plate

HYDE CREEK—Youth baseball team plays first game in exhibition with Hyde Creek Hillbillys of North Vancouver Island Baseball League.

J.R. Rardon

Gazette editor

HYDE CREEK—After practicing throughout the spring and summer, the Junior Hillbillys youth baseball team played its first game Sunday afternoon.

Shortly after the exhibition game ended, a half-dozen of them played their first doubleheader.

Mixed and matched with members of the Hyde Creek Hillbillys of the North Vancouver Island Baseball League, the mostly 10- to 14-year-olds played a six-inning contest prior to the Hillbillys’ scheduled league finale against the Port McNeill Rangers.

When only four Rangers arrived for the second game, several of the youngsters were distributed among both teams to fill out rosters for the seven-inning nightcap, won 11-5 by the Hillbillys.

“It was fun,” said Carson Strang, a recent Grade 7 grad from Sunset Elementary, who went 3-for-4 in both games with two RBI and three runs scored for the day. “You learn a lot more this way than just practicing.”

The Junior Hillbillys were recruited beginning last year by fellow Grade 7 grad Clayton Bono, and are coached by his father, Ray, and fellow Hillbilly Warren Henderson.

“I told Clayton if he got a team together, I’d coach,” Ray Bono said. “But I wasn’t going to organize it. He does it all — makes the calls to make sure the guys are coming out to practice, makes sure they have rides.”

The “team” was more of a loose assemblage of Clayton’s friends until this spring, when he got firm commitments from as many as 13 youngsters, including younger brother Ethan.

“It’s not hard to get people interested,” Clayton said of recruiting the squad. “We started with eight or so, then more people started coming. We could probably get more, but we don’t want to have too many.”

The Junior Hillbillys practice each Monday evening at Hyde Creek Ballpark, with Ray Bono and Henderson instructing in basic fundamentals.

On Sunday, they got to put those skills to the test in the exhibition game, which started with Clayton Bono and Hillbillys captain Ryan Rushton choosing sides of mixed adult and youth players, playground-style.

With the bases moved in to the 60-foot Little League distance, Clayton’s Junior Hillbillys claimed a see-saw, 12-6 victory over Rushton’s Hillbillys, propelled by a six-run fifth inning. Clayton struck out eight while pitching all six innings for the winners.

“My arm started hurting in the fifth inning, but I wanted to go the whole way,” he said. “That’s how long the games are in the Little League World Series.”

In order to fill a roster for the second game, the Rangers “borrowed” Henderson and Chad McKenzie from the Hillbillys, then added twins Jesse and Reece Lloyd and Travis Shad from the Junior Hillbillys. On the other side of the diamond, Clayton and Ethan Bono joined Strang with the regular Hillbillys, who overcame an early 4-0 deficit to rally for the win.

Richard Balcke led the attack with an inside-the-park home run and a double in a 3-for-4 effort that included three RBI, three runs and two stolen bases. Chad Bell drove in three runs with a pair of hits.

The Hillbillys will host a team from Comox this weekend, with the Rangers making it a round-robin series if able to field a team. Play begins Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday at noon in Hyde Creek.

 

Team Clayton 12, Team Rushton 6

Clayton 031 062—12 18  2

Rushton 104 100—  6   7  4

C. Bono and Henderson, R. Balcke (3). Rushton, E. Bono (6) and E. Bono, Proc (5). W—C. Bono. L—Rushton. 3B—Team Clayton, Hall, Beek. 2B—Team Clayton, Henderson. SB—Team Clayton, Leblanc, R. Balcke. Team Rushton, E. Bono 2. Umpire—K. Balcke. A—18. T—1:41.

 

Hyde Creek 11, Port McNeill 5

Rangers 103 010 0— 5  6  2

Hillbilly 002 414 x—11 11 2

Proc, Kenny (5) and Kenny, Henderson (5); R. Balcke, Rushton (4) and Hall. W—Rushton. L—Proc. LOB—Rangers, 10; Hillbillys 11. DP—Hillbillys 1. HR—Hillbillys, R. Balcke. 3B—Hillbillys, Rushton. 2B—Rangers, Proc; Hillbillys, R. Balcke. SB—Rangers, Henderson, R. Lloyd, Johnson; Hillbillys, R. Balcke 2, Hall, Bell, Rushton, C. Bono. Umpire—Dumonceaux. A—11. T—2:09.

Just Posted

Port Hardy Reigns compete in Nanaimo at Island Championships

“We are very fortunate to have this opportunity for our youth in Port Hardy”

Derina Harvey Band – Heartfelt, Energetic, Celtic rock comes to Port Hardy

Front-woman Derina Harvey leads this Celtic-rock act, who offer an authentic east-coast experience.

OPINION: Urgent care room will cost lives

“Seniors, of any demographic, are the most vulnerable to the loss of emergency care.”

James Hayward coroner’s inquest rescheduled hours away from where RCMP shooting occured

The family is “a bit disappointed that it’s going to be held in Campbell River”

Deadline looming for North Island College scholarship applications

Students have until April 24 to apply for a record number of… Continue reading

‘No answers:’ Canadians react to Sri Lanka bombings that killed hundreds

The co-ordinated bomb attacks killed at least 207 people and injured 450 more on Easter Sunday

RCMP confirm witnesses say body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Global Affairs warns Canadians in Sri Lanka there could be more attacks

A series of bomb blasts killed at least 207 people and injured hundreds more

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

Most Read