PORT McNEILL—Port McNeill’s Hi Vis slo-pitch team was working on a 17-inning scoreless streak as it carried a 2-0 lead into the fourth inning of last week’s playoff finale against the Woodchuckers.
As it turned out, the Woodchuckers had them right where they wanted them.
Mike Miller blasted two home runs in back-to-back innings and drove in four runs as the Woodchuckers rallied from behind last Thursday to win the Port McNeill Slo-pitch playoffs with an 8-2 win over Hi-Vis.
The top-seeded Woodchuckers were well-rested, while Hi Vis had come through a series of loser-out games Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to earn the finals berth.
“You can’t play the best team in the league when you’re tired,” Hi Vis infielder Jason Evans said.
Still, Hi Vis stymied the champs for several innings with an extreme defensive shift, catching balls hit to the strong side or forcing weak contact the opposite way.
“We finally told them to just hit to their strength,” Woodchuckers manager Laurie Desbiens said. “I said, ‘Stop trying to go to the off-field.'”
The best way to beat the shift, Miller found, was to simply hit over it.
His fourth inning solo shot gave the Woodchuckers their first run, and was followed by run-scoring singles from Matt Devine and Matt Miller for a 3-2 lead.
The following inning, the Woodchuckers scored five more, anchored by Mike Miller’s three-run homer and a solo blast by Randy Hunt.
Shanna Laflamme added an RBI single in the frame.
“We were just playing possum,” Matt Miller joked.
Hi Vis, which cruised to wins of 14-0 over Sportsman’s and 15-0 over the Dustmen to reach the final, took the early lead in the third inning.
Greg King’s two-out double drove in Kianna Swanson and Kevin Jones to start the scoring.