PORT ALICE—Port Hardy’s Load ‘em Up had a special incentive to win the championship of the annual Fred Donaldson Memorial Labour Day Slo-pitch Tournament.
The team needed the trophy back in order to engrave its previous two wins here.
Jim Clair homered twice and drove in six runs and Tony Knighton added a home run and four RBI as Load ‘em Up ran away with a 23-10 win over Multiple Scoregasms of Port Alice to earn their third straight tourney title.
“This one gives us a hat trick,” joked manager Steven Clair. “It was a great weekend. And we needed to get that trophy back. We never put our names on it for the last two.”
The Blue Sox of Port Hardy snared the B Division with a win over Bams, another Port Alice club. The C Division went to Dirty Mike’s Boys, a multi-generational assemblage of players from Port Alice, Hyde Creek and Port McNeill, who topped Storm & ½ in Sunday’s finals.
But the day, like much of the 2014 tournament season, belonged to Load ‘em Up. Sunday’s championship was its fifth this season. The team also went undefeated in the recent OrcaFest Slo-pitch tourney, but was relegated to the B Division by the tourney’s tiebreaker formula and settled for the B title.
They wasted no time getting on the sticks in Port Alice, scoring the limit of five runs in the top of the first sparked by Knighton’s RBI double. The Scoregasms rode two-run home runs by both Eric Kennelly and Joe Ruiz to stay within 5-4 in the bottom half, but the hosts could not maintain the offensive momentum as Load ‘em Up pulled away to a 13-4 lead in the fourth inning.
Bubba Nelson and Luke Wiggins added home runs for the winners, while Knighton had two doubles and Ryan Handley added a double and drove in a run.
And the Load ‘em Up women had their say, accounting for almost all of the team’s scoring in a five-run sixth. After Nelson led off the inning with a solo homer, Raylene Clair drove in a run with a single, Nikki Richards belted a two-run double over the head of Port Alice centre-fielder Chris Brennan to hoots from the crowd, and Arlene Clair closed out the scoring when she reached on an error that allowed Richards to scoot home with the inning-ending run.
“Everyone played great,” Steven Clair said. “The bats were alive, which was good to see.”
Multiple Scoregasms made a late push at the plate to forestall the mercy rule. Brennan got a measure of redemption with a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth, Ruiz added his second two-run blast, and Mark Inglis and Katie Senciw added RBIs to provide the final margin.
It just wasn’t enough on a day Load ‘em Up got hits from every batter in its lineup in a 23-hit attack.
“We needed to score runs to get back in it, and just didn’t have the hitting,” said Ruiz, who noted his team was missing players to both injury and shift work at the local mill.
Load ‘em Up dodged its own injury scare when Arlene Clair landed hard after hitting first base awkwardly on an infield single in the third inning. She was helped off the field favouring her right knee, but managed to return to finish out the game.
Asked after the game how she was feeling, Clair said, “Oh, everything hurts now.”
Having the tourney trophy for another year should help ease the pain. And allow another 12 months to get that engraving done.
Fred Donaldson Memorial Labour Day Tournament
at Port Alice
Championship: Load ’em Up 23, Multiple Scoregasms 10. Semifinals: Load ’em Up d. Deadliest Catch; Multiple Scoregasms d. Woodchuckers. Quarterfinal: Deadliest Catch d. Pitches Be Crazy.
1. Blue Sox; 2. Bams; 3. Ump Yours; 4. Storm.
1. Dirty Mike’s Boys; 2. Storm & ½; 3. Aces; 4. Boozers.
Most Sportsmanlike Team: Bams.