HYDE CREEK—Had it been a hockey game, both teams would have been at full strength the entire way.
But when the Port Hardy Cubs and Port McNeill Rangers agreed to line up 6-on-6 for a North Vancouver Island Baseball League contest Saturday, it made for some interesting fielding configurations.
Only two regular Cubs, Chris Lamothe and Dave Stewart, were in attendance. The squad got two Rangers players as loaners and was further bolstered by a pair of family members and grandparents — Stewart’s father-in-law Audie Tamburini and his uncle, Bill Cliff.
“Between us, we’re 112 years old,” Tamburini cracked.
Yet the two were difference-makers as the Cubs rallied in the bottom of the seventh inning for an 18-17 win on the final weekend of regular-season play.
With the Cubs trailing 17-15, Cliff started the inning with a clean single to left field and eventually came around to score on a double by David Blid, one of the two Rangers who helped down his regular squad.
When Cliff came to bat again later in the inning — it did not take long, with six-man rosters — he coaxed a one-out, bases-loaded walk that forced home Lamothe with the winning run.
Lamothe picked up the win with four innings of relief. Port McNeill’s Rob Kenny, who started, moved to catcher, left with a knee injury, and re-entered to pitch again, was tagged with the loss.
The Cubs finished the regular season 6-2 and tied with the Hyde Creek Hillbillys for the top spot in the league. The Hillbillys claimed the tiebreaker for the top seed based on run differential and will draw an opening-round bye when the league playoffs begin at Hyde Creek Ballpark Saturday at 10 a.m.
Hillbillys 13, Rangers 2
Ivan Hall tripled, doubled and scored three runs Sunday as Hyde Creek closed out the regular season with the convincing win.
The Rangers (0-10) opened the game with two runs in the top of the first inning against Hillbillys starter Jason West. But Hyde Creek got five runs back in the bottom half and was never threatened as West and Rob Cessford combined on six shutout innings the rest of the way.
The Rangers will take on the Cubs Saturday in the playoff opener. Hyde Creek will play the winner at 1 p.m. The playoffs will continue Sunday with games at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.