PORT McNEILL—The Woodchuckers solved their seventh-inning issues against the Dustmen, and it earned them another shot at the Port McNeill Slo-pitch League title Monday evening.
John Klughart, Matt Miller and Randy Hunt each homered as part of a 20-hit attack as the Woodchuckers blasted the top-seeded Dustmen 18-6 in the league playoff finals at Centennial Park.
The Woodchuckers’ victory left each team with one loss in the double-elimination tourney and forced an “if-necessary” rematch Tuesday night, after the Gazette went to press. For the latest tournament result, visit www.northislandgazette.com.
In the two squads’ first meeting of the tournament, one week earlier, the Woodchuckers carried a 14-9 lead over the Dustmen into the seventh inning. But the Dustmen erupted for 22 runs in the top half of the inning to win in a laugher.
While the Dustmen completed their trip through the winners’ bracket to reach Monday’s final as the lone unbeaten team in the tourney, the Woodchuckers were forced to work their way through the loser’s bracket to earn their finals berth.
After spotting the Dustmen a single run in the top of the first inning Monday, the Woodchuckers wasted no time shifting their offence into high gear. Shanna Laflamme and Matt Miller each hit two-run doubles, Dustin Carmen added an RBI double and Hunt drove in a run with a ground ball as the club pushed ahead 6-1 in the bottom of the inning.
And that was just a taste of the onslaught to come. Carmen finished 4-for-4 with three runs batted in; Hunt and Miller each drove in four runs; Laflamme went 3-for-4 with three RBI and Jason Evans was 3-for-3 with a walk and four runs scored.
Across the diamond, the Dustmen could not get any purchase. They managed just two runs through the first three innings while the Woodchuckers were building a 10-2 advantage, and did not score more than two runs in any inning.
And this time, when the Woodchuckers carried their 18-6 cushion into the seventh inning, there was no double-digit outburst. The Dustmen instead went down 1-2-3 to set up Tuesday’s winner-take-all showdown.
Glenn Moore provided a bright spot for the Dustmen’s offence, going 3-for-4 with three runs and an RBI. Ivan Hall was 3-for-3 and drove in two runs, and brothers Keith and Richard Balcke each had two hits, including matching RBI doubles.
The Woodchuckers and Dustmen won’t have long to wait to get back into action following their Tuesday evening finale. Both teams will be among the entries in the annual OrcaFest Slo-pitch Tournament, which kicks off tomorrow evening and continues through Sunday’s afternoon’s finals.
Play will be held at three area fields — Centennial, located at the Community Hall; Mantic Field, behind the ice arena; and Hyde Creek Ballpark, which will be converted from a baseball diamond to a slo-pitch field for the weekend.
Centennial Park will serve as tournament headquarters and home of the beer garden. The finals will kick off late morning Sunday at Centennial, with the A final set to begin at approximately 2 p.m.