HYDE CREEK—The way the Port McNeill Rangers responded to Saturday’s season-opening win, you’d think they hadn’t done it before.
Oh, wait …
The Rangers, who went winless in 2012, will begin the 2013 season atop the North Vancouver Island Baseball League standings thanks to a 12-0 romp over the Port Hardy Cubs at the local ballpark.
Rob Kenny struck out eight in the seven-inning, complete-game shutout, and Harold Hosken hit a two-run homer to pace the Rangers, who seemed incredulous as they huddled for the traditional postgame cheer.
“I don’t think we’ve ever shut out that team before,” said Greg Johnson.
“We’ve already got more wins than we had last season,” Hosken noted.
“Who are you guys? Am I on the right team?” outfielder Ed James said as he jogged toward the dugout.
In Port Hardy’s defence, the Cubs were playing with just eight players, including three newcomers. But the loss could hardly be blamed on the two-man outfield configuration, as Stephen Ralph made two diving, run-saving catches in left-centre and Greg Mose made another running grab in full stride in right-centre to limit the damage.
Rather, the Cubs were undone by walks and errors, as Port McNeill made the most of just seven base hits in the game. Three Cubs pitchers combined to issue 10 free passes, and the defence behind them committed five errors.
Indeed, the Rangers might have plated more runs if not for the aforementioned defensive gems and their stranding of 11 baserunners.
Brandon Proc went 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored; Hugh Connon reached base four times, adding another two RBI and two runs; and Johnson and Tyler Berry also drove in two runs apiece for the Rangers.
It was the opposite story when the teams switched sides. After the Cubs’ Chris Lamothe greeted Kenny with a clean, two-out single in the first inning, Port Hardy did not get another hit until Lamothe struck again with a laser to left field in the sixth.
In between, the Cubs got only three baserunners on two walks and an error, and two of them were picked off base. No Port Hardy runner made it past second base.
The season continues this weekend with a pair of games, including the season opener for the defending champion Hyde Creek Hillbillies, Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 4, both at Hyde Creek.
North Vancouver Island Baseball League
Standings through May 1
Team W L Pct GB
Port McNeill 1 0 .000 —
Hyde Creek 0 0 .000 1/2
Port Hardy 0 1 .000 1
Saturday, Apr. 27
Port McNeill 12, Port Hardy 0
Rangers 12, Cubs 0
Port Hardy 000 000 0— 0 2 5
Port McNeill 002 253 x—12 7 1
Lamothe, Stewart (4), Campbell (5) and Campbell, Lamothe (5); Kenny and Berry. W—Kenny (1-0). L—Lamothe (0-1). LOB—Cubs 2, Rangers 11. 2b—Rangers, Evans. Sb—Cubs, Breitkreitz, Lamothe. Rangers, Proc, Johnson, Evans. SF—Rangers, Berry. Umpire—Dumonceaux. T—2:22. A—10.
Saturday, May 4
Hyde Creek vs. Port Hardy, 5 p.m.
Sunday, May 5
Port McNeill vs. Hyde Creek, 4 p.m.
All games at Hyde Creek Ballpark