SOINTULA—Never let it be said that players on Sointula’s baseball teams lack for positional flexibility.
Donald “Duck” Williams started at catcher for the Sointula Old Boys Sunday against the Sointula Young Guns in the annual showcase rivalry game of the annual Sointula Baseball Tournament, then switched to head oyster griller in the nearby beer garden.
Brendan Allen, an infielder for the Young Guns, shifted to clam fritter fryer. Teammate Kelsey Aikin moved from second base to shrimp kabobs and outfielder Anton Williams grabbed a bottle of hot sauce to spice up the shrimp.
In a tournament devoted as much to the food and partying as to baseball, they may have drawn more cheers behind the grills.
“We went through 130 dozen oysters and 1,000 shrimp kabobs,” said Ross Michelson, a longtime veteran of the Old Boys squad and one of many local organizers of the annual tourney. “The clam fritters are new this year, and they’re pretty popular.”
The Hyde Creek Hillbillys successfully defended their 2012 title by defeating Comox in Monday’s championship game.
Fans who sat through gray skies and occasional rain showers Saturday were rewarded Sunday with bright, sunny skies for the anticipated showdown between the Old Boys and the Young Guns, one of six games on the day.
A homecoming event of sorts, which serves as Sointula’s unofficial kickoff to summer, the game features numerous father-son combinations facing each other across the diamond.
Last year’s contest was a nip-and-tuck affair that went down to the wire, but this time the youngsters rolled to a big early lead and went on to a 12-2 victory. Aikin’s bases-clearing double to deep left field in the fourth inning provided the exclamation point, though the Old Boys managed to avert a shutout when Michelson laced an RBI double the next inning to hearty cheers from the big crowd massed along the grassy slope behind the third-base line.
“Here we come,” Michelson cracked to the Young Guns fielders as he motored into second base on the hit.
Per usual, the tourney also drew a pair of teams from the Comox Valley, along with the Port McNeill Rangers and Hyde Creek Hillbillys of the North Vancouver Island Baseball League.
The three-time defending champion Hillbillys were in top form, rolling into Monday’s championship final as the top seed with an unbeaten record in round-robin play. Following Sunday’s intramural tussle between the two Sointula squads, Hyde Creek cruised to an 11-0 win over Port McNeill behind two-RBI hits from Ivan Hall, Jason West and Adam Dmetrichuk.
It was the first meeting of the year for the teams, which were rained out in a scheduled NVIBL game a week earlier in Hyde Creek.
The tournament, as always, kicked off Friday night with a game between squads of players in the Sointula Minor Ball program, ranging from 8 to 13 years in age. The Demented Angels broke open a close game and went on to an 8-3 win over the Almost Humans before an appreciative crowd of mostly local fans.
Many visiting players camped out on Malcolm Island for the weekend, and were able to take in the traditional Saturday night dance.
Funds raised in the annual tourney go to assist the Sointula Recreation Association.