PORT McNEILL—For six innings, the Port McNeill Woodchuckers were enjoying a laugher in the A final of the annual OrcaFest Slo-pitch Tournament. But by the time they secured the final out against the late-charging Woss Brewers, the Woodchuckers’ dugout had gone mostly silent.
Behind pinpoint hitting and some shaky defence on the part of the Brewers, the Woodchuckers rolled to an 18-4 lead. But Woss turned the tables dramatically over the final two innings before the Woodchuckers finally closed the door on an 18-12 victory.
“We’re good enough that I didn’t see them going through the batting order twice on us,” Woodchuckers pitcher Aaron Desbiens said after the Brewers scored five runs in the bottom of the seventh — and left two more runners in scoring position when outfielder Shanna Laflamme hauled in the last fly ball to seal the championship.
“But they made it a little interesting,” teammate Mike Miller admitted.
After a scoreless first inning, the Woodchuckers’ offence erupted, posting the maximum five runs allowed in the second, third and fifth innings. With two more runs in the fourth and another in the top of the sixth, they found themselves on the happy side of an 18-4 rout.
Matt Miller provided two home runs and Dustin Carmen capped the fifth inning with a grand slam to pace the Woodchuckers’ 23-hit attack. The ladies also had something to say with the bat; Kim Bentley went 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs, and Kelly Davidson finished 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run.
“The ball was just finding the holes,” Mike Miller said.
Some of those holes seemed to be in the Brewers’ gloves, as the team suffered nine errors in the game. But after the Woodchuckers got two quick outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, the tide turned like a tsunami.
Consecutive RBI singles by Adam Dmetrichuk, Natalie Chester and Taylor Galeazzi gave the Brewers a nifty two-out rally, and Ryan Rushton, who earlier hit a two-run homer, had his shot deep to center field caught for the final out with two more runners aboard.
After blanking the Woodchuckers in the top of the seventh — for the first time since the opening inning — the Brewers resumed the comeback, with Tyson Dick, Dyllan Browne and Whitney Murgatroyd contributing key run-scoring hits before the Woodchuckers closed the door.
“They found the holes, and we didn’t,” said Rushton, echoing Miller’s observation. “We had a good rally, but it wasn’t enough.”
The 22-team tourney drew squads from Campbell River, the Comox Valley, Nanaimo and Duncan in addition to local North Island Communities, and the Woodchuckers were not the only undefeated team.
Load ‘em Up of Port Hardy, which already has four tournament wins this season, claimed the B title with a 19-4 romp over the Base Hits of Comox. Tony Knighton had two home runs and Bubba Nelson added a long ball for Load ‘em Up, which finished 3-0 in pool play but missed out on the four-team ‘A’ playoff due to a run-differential tiebreaker.
In fact, the Woodchuckers and the Brewers were not even among the top two ‘A’ qualifiers under the tiebreaker. Hi Vis of Port McNeill actually finished as the top seed into the playoffs before being upended by the fourth-seeded Brewers in the semifinals, and Port Hardy’s Blue Sox were seeded second but fell to the No. 3 Woodchuckers.
at Port McNeill
Championship: Woodchuckers 18, Woss Brewers 12. 3rd-4th: Hi Vis d. Blue Sox. Semifinals: Brewers d. Hi Vis; Woodchuckers d. Blue Sox.
1st-2nd: Load ‘em Up 19, Base Hits 4. 3rd-4th: Sportsman d. Pitches B Crazy. Semifinals: Load ‘em Up d. Sportsman; Base Hits d. Pitches B Crazy.
1st-2nd: Blue Jays d. Master Batters. 3rd-4th: Adrenaline Rush d. Dustmen. Semifinals: Master Batters d. Dustmen; Blue Jays d. Adrenaline Rush.
1st-2nd: Sliders d. Fireballers. 3rd-4th: Ball Busters d. Brew Crew. Semifinals: Fireballers d. Ball Busters; Sliders d. Brew Crew.
1st-2nd: Ump Yours d. Salmon Kings. 3rd-4th: Deadliest Catch d. Boozers. Semifinals: Salmon Kings d. Deadliest Catch; Ump Yours d. Boozers.
1st-2nd: Storm & a Half d. Timberland.
Load ‘em Up 12, Timberland 1
Blue Sox 17, Sportsman 1
Hi Vis 14, Storm & a Half 2
Dustmen 14, Brew Crew 12
Blue Sox 19, Fireballers 9
Woodchuckers 21, Boozers 10
Blue Jays 18, Ball Busters 16
Hi Vis 15, Deadliest Catch 4
Pitches B Crazy 17, Ump Yours 1
Base Hits 12, Salmon Kings 4
Master Batters 11, Sliders 4
Woss Brewers 17, Fireballers 10
Blue Sox 18, Timberland 1
Sportsman 15, Ump Yours 2
Dustmen 20, Ump Yours 11
Woodchuckers 13, Sliders 6
Ball Busters 16, Deadliest Catch 6
Load ‘em Up 4, Adrenaline Rush 3
Sliders 12, Deadliest Catch 3
Sportsman 22, Storm & a Half 2
Fireballers 19, Salmon Kings 11
Brew Crew 14, Master Batters 4
Base Hits 10, Boozers 4
Pitches B Crazy 11, Storm & a Half 0
Blue Jays 11, Salmon Kings 3
Adrenaline Rush 13, Dustmen 11
Woss Brewers 14, Timberland 3
Hi Vis 18, Boozers 2
Woodchuckers 13, Brew Crew 1
Woss Brewers 8, Ball Busters 6
Load ‘em Up 15, Blue Jays 9
Base Hits 13, Master Batters 13
Adrenaline Rush 12, Pitches B Crazy 6