PORT McNEILL—The crowd went wild for the long ball, but the hit that made the difference in the final of the OrcaFest Slo-pitch Tournament never left the infield Sunday at Centennial Field.
The Intersport Dodgers of Campell River claimed the A final with an 11-9 win over Mr. Mike’s Jays, on a two-run, walkoff home run by Mark Berry.
But Berry’s game-winner was made possible after Audrey “Auz” Fuccenecco rapped a potential game-ending ground ball to second base, a grounder that ultimately led to teammate Zac Ashdown scoring the tying run from first base.
Though its local teams had already been eliminated, Port McNeill Slo-pitch Association hosted the final as a tribute to the late Jack Tompkins, a longtime local and Vancouver Island ballplayer and umpire. Local umps Dave Trebett, Tom Baker, Joe McDonald and Marc Dumonceaux all took the field wearing Tompkins’ trademark black shorts and high white socks in a tribute to Tompkins, who died in March at age 67 after a brief battle with cancer.
Tompkins was so identifiable on the diamond that his final service has been scheduled for September 21 in Courtenay, on the day he would have worked his final game of the season.
Following the tourney, organizers also unveiled the inaugural Jack Tompkins Memorial Most Sportsmanlike Team trophy, which went to Timberlands of Port McNeill.
Berry’s winning home run came with a runner on second and one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, after the Dodgers had tied the score 9-9. Asked if he was trying to hit a home or just looking for a solid hit, Berry grinned.
“No, I was trying,” he said.
It fit the theme of the day.
Before his tourney-ending shot, the talk of the ballpark was Jays infielder Stacey Stromme, who lofted a walkoff homer to straightaway centre in the eighth inning of her squad’s semifinal win over Port McNeill’s Woodchuckers.
She became just the second woman in the tourney’s 25-year history to hit two home runs when she added a solo shot to left field in the A final. It came after teammate Rich Castro launched a two-run shot in the top of the fourth inning to cut the Dodgers’ lead to 6-2, and helped spark a seven-run inning that put the Jays up 7-6. Former Port McNeill resident Dave Iseppe added a two-run shot later in the big inning for the Jays, whose players hail from Duncan, Nanaimo, Courtenay, Campbell River and Port McNeill.
“We were going to be called Might Include Nuts,” said outfielder Scott Sanders, who added a two-run home run in the sixth. “Somehow it became Mr. Mike’s Jays.”
The Dodgers also did some fence-clearing, with Clinton Hall blasting a three-run homer in the first inning and Shane Dumanoir adding a solo shot to lead off the sixth.
Fuccenecco came up with one out and Ashdown on first in the bottom of the seventh inning with the Dodgers trailing 9-8. Her sharp, one-out grounder, a potential game-ending double play ball, skipped off the glove and leg of Jays second baseman Rick Carley and sailed high into the air. As Carley tumbled to the ground, Ashdown ran past and rounded second base. Jays shortstop Drew Forrest tracked down the ball and fired to third base, but his throw sailed past teammate Kristy Arsenault to the fence as Ashdown headed for home.
Arsenault recovered quickly and rifled a throw home as Ashdown slid to a halt before crossing the no-return line, but her throw also eluded back catcher Tracy Barker, and Ashdown resumed his run home to score the tying run.
That left Fuccenecco on second base and brought up Berry, who lifted a pitch over the fence in left field for the game-winner.
The win gave Port Hardy’s Ravens third place in the A Division, with the Woodchuckers finishing fourth.
The B final was an all-Port Hardy affair, which Load ’em Up won over Master Batters on Arlene Clair’s walkoff sacrifice fly with one out in the bottom of the seventh.
Hi Vis of Port McNeill topped the Woss Brew Crew in the C Final, Port McNeill’s T&B claimed the D with a win over Port Hardy’s Salmon Kings; Base Hits outdueled Loose Change in the E final, and Sportsman downed Timberland in the F Division.
2013 OrcaFest Slo-pitch Tournament
1. Intersport Dodgers; 2. Mr. Mike’s Jays; 3. Ravens; 4. Woodchuckers.
Most Sportsmanlike female: Melinda, Ravens. MSP male: Randy, Woodchuckers.
1. Load ’em Up; 2. Master Batters; 3. Adrenaline Rush; 4. Dustmen.
MSP female: Shelby, Master Batters. MSP male: Glenn, Dustmen.
1. Hi Vis; 2. Brew Crew; 3. Ball Busters; 4. Generals.
MSP female: Sabrina, Generals. MSP male: Jordan, Brew Crew.
1. T & B; 2. Salmon Kings; 3. The Off; 4. Boozers.
MSP female: Shawna, The Off. MSP male: Rob, Salmon Kings.
1. Base Hits; 2. Loose Change; 3. Storm; 4. Ballerz.
MSP female: Nicky, Base Hits. MSP male: Rob, Base Hits
1. Sportsman; 2. Timberland.
MSP female: Tammy, Timberland. MSP male: Cory, Sportsman.