3Cheers for the champs

Kenn Oliver
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St. John’s-based team dominant in winning Newfoundland first-ever senior men’s national fastpitch title

Stephen Mullaley

It’s said you have to learn how to lose before you can know how to win. On Sunday in Fredericton, N.B., players on St. John’s-based  3Cheers Pub put their collective knowledge of losing at the national senior men’s softball championship to the test and emerged as 2012 title-winners with a rain-shortened 5-0 victory over the defending champs from Kitchener, Ont.

In doing so, 3Cheers became the first team from this province to win the event.

“To be part of the first team to ever win gold is huge,” says player-coach Colin Abbott.

“You’ve got to get the first one out of the way and worry about others in the future. But there’s certainly enough talent here to put a string together.”

Like West Side Charlies at last year’s nationals in Owen Sound, Ont., and Roebothan McKay Marshall in the 2007 tournament here in St. John’s, 3Cheers went undefeated through the round-robin and the playoff round leading up to the championship game. However, unlike those previous years, when Newfoundland entries came up short in the final and were forced to settle for silver, 3Cheers was able to get the job done Sunday.

“We’ve had great teams before, but this one was just a little bit better,” Abbott says of a team that outscored their opponents 74-4 through nine games, collecting mercy wins in all but one, round-robin a 3-1 decision over Kitchener.

“Newfoundland is sometimes known for having a big bopper’s-type team, but this team gave up only three runs (in the round robin) and didn’t make an error. In my mind, that was as impressive as some of our hitting stats.

“I think our confidence grew as the week went on, such that we knew we could throw any combination of players and we were still (beating teams by the mercy rule.)”

Abbott, who was around for the 2007 upset, isn’t denying thinking about the previous championships ahead of Sunday, especially considering what happened in the past, but he insists they couldn’t let it overshadow what they had to do.

“We made sure everyone was focused, but also really relaxed to play. I didn’t feel like anyone was thinking too much about what happened last year of five years ago.”

Mullaley had a monster tourney

With heavy rain in the Fredericton area, Sunday’s championship game was limited to four innings. Sean Cleary pitched the win, with imports Jeff Ellsworth and Ian Fehrman hitting solo home runs. Newfoundlander Stephen Mullaley, who now calls Toronto home, also hit a home run — his 10th of the tournament.

“He got on a roll like I’ve never seen before at a championship. When he didn’t hit a home run, you were surprised,” Abbott says of Mullaley, who took top batter award and all-star team honours at first base, and then got the playoff-round MVP nod.

“It wasn’t like he was just dropping them over the edge. Everything he was hitting was a rope ... they were going 30 or 40 feet over the fence. It was quite amazing.”

Other 3Cheers members picking up awards were Cleary, who earned the championship game top player award and was also named to the tourney all-star team, along with outfielders Ellsworth and Brad Ezekiel.

Other members of the championship team are Ryan Boland, Shane Boland, Geoff Evely, Blair Ezekiel, Kyle Ezekiel, Justin Gill, Ward Gosse, Jason Hill, Mark Lewis, Sean Whitten, coach John Hill, assistant coach Lee Cose and manager Jerry Bruce.

Since 2005, Newfoundland has won three silver medals  (2005, 2007, 2011), a bronze medal (2010), and posted two fourth-place finishes (2008, 2009) at Canadian senior men’s championship. In 2006, the province’s only entry finished sixth.

koliver@thetelegram.com

Twitter@telykenn

Mark’s Hitmen come away with bronze

3Cheers Pub wasn’t the only Newfoundland team to medal at the national senior men’s championships this weekend as the Imagewear Corporate Apparel Mark’s Hitmen claimed bronze.

The Hitmen posted a 5-1 record in the round robin, good for second place and a double life in the playoff round. After defeating the host Fredericton Twins 7-5 Friday night, the Hitmen used up their first life when they fell 8-0 to 3Cheers Saturday .

That left the Hitmen with a date against Kitchener, Ont., Cubs on Sunday morning with a berth in the championship game on the line.

But an all-Newfoundland rematch in the final was not to be.

In the semifinal game against Kitchener, import pitcher Jeff Farion started for the Newfoundland side and gave up six runs on five hits in the first inning as the Cubs trounced the Hitmen 9-1 in a game called after five innings on the tournament’s seven-run mercy rule. Mike Noftall (3R, 6H, 3K) came on and tossed four innings in relief.

Jon Kelly counted the Hitmen’s only run with a fifth-inning solo homer.

Hitmen second baseman Chris Murphy and Farion were both named tournament all-stars.

The Kelly’s Pub Molson Bulldogs, the third Newfoundland entry, finished in seventh with a 2-5 record.

Organizations: Imagewear Corporate Apparel Mark, Molson

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Kitchener, Fredericton Owen Sound Toronto

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Recent comments

  • Dave
    September 05, 2012 - 14:11

    Congrats to 3Cheers and softball NL for continuing to put our province on the national sports map. Its difficult to imagine one of our team sports winning one national championship in a given year but to win Junior and Senior in one season only stregthens the fact that Softball is our Provinces best sport.

  • McLovin
    September 04, 2012 - 12:23

    I'm Pro-Baseball but winning a National Championship is a monumental achievement no matter what the sport, especially when you hail from a Province that has a small population like ours. Congrats to 3Cheers! You should be proud.

  • Cherry Hill
    September 04, 2012 - 11:44

    Cant wait to watch Softball on TSN Tonight!!! Hahahahaha these guys should be playing a real game.... It's called Baseball.....

  • Jamie
    September 04, 2012 - 10:06

    @ take em on sammy. Surely you can't be talking about the St. John's Caps in recent history. 2011 they finshed 2-3 2010 2-2 2009 lost a close 1-0 bronze medal game to Ontario. The team is competitive every year, inspite of some blowout losses. It's sports, every team has a bad game every now and again

    • Roy Hobbs
      September 05, 2012 - 10:07

      That's good Jamie, when they start winning medals perhaps we will have something to cheer about. Maybe this will be the year, oh wait, they didn't go.

    • Baller
      September 05, 2012 - 12:49

      It looks like the same amount of provinces were represented at both this year's Senior men's baseball and softball nationals. In that case, I don't know why these critical baseballers are wasting their time playing a game no one plays. Give credit where credit is due and this year's 3 Cheers team was a team loaded with talent and deserve the credit that comes with winning a national championship! Congrats boys!

  • Neil Benson
    September 04, 2012 - 09:42

    Congratulations Guys on winning Newfoundlands First ever Gold Medal. Thinking back of my involvement over the years and all the Nationals attended by so many Fabulous players , and coming up just a little short. This is particularly SWEET!!! Dave Boland ( one of the best in his day ) must be so proud of his sons Shane and Ryan . Gossie , Way to go Buddy!!!!!!! I hope Colin stays involved with this talented group of athletes for years to come!!!

  • Jonny
    September 04, 2012 - 09:35

    Let's put it in perspective here, the comparisons of Marck McGuire versus Colin Abbott are laughable. Baseball to softball, is analagous to olympics to paralympics. With baseball, everyone in the world plays, making the competition more difficult. Softball, played mostly by people from Torbay, Harbour Grace and the Goulds. Let's be honest before you start touting these guys as world class athletes.

    • R. Crocker
      September 05, 2012 - 07:06

      Drop up to a field during the Moss Tournament next summer to see what areas of NL are represented. Not sure where you obtained your information on who is playing softball, but you are sadly mistaken. As for the Mcgwire comment someone made, this was in an article in the Telegram back in the early 90's when Colin was hitting 3rd for Team Canada and winning medals for Canada, not NL, Canada. Name the baseball players that have done that for NL. As for the athlete comment, put on the cleats and try and hit a ball from 40 feet that is rising or dipping at 90mph.

    • HOTROD
      September 06, 2012 - 22:11

      Lets see now..baseball in this province is probably 2 or 3 levels below A ball from what i hear!that is nowhere close to even being worthy of a conversation regarding NL baseball ,players as well. I am willing to bet that quite a few baseball players wouldnt be able to play at that softball level!

  • Jonny
    September 04, 2012 - 08:56

    Seems like the story should be about how they're capable of putting a national tournament together for a sport that nobody plays

  • Bob
    September 04, 2012 - 07:01

    Where is Robin Short now?? Probably watching his video tape of the Gushue Olympic gold victory where IMPORT Russ Howard lead them to gold, but hey, that import doesn't count hey Shorttie!!

    • Take em on Sammy
      September 04, 2012 - 07:55

      Now where to begin, how about congrats to a team that completely dominated its competition from the first pitch to the last. I can honestly say I have never seen a team dominate a tourney like that in my existence. I was speaking to some former players who have attended many national softball tournaments over the years, both as players and fans, and they all agreed that it was something that would be talked about for years to come. Mullaley’s performance at the plate was nothing short of amazing. Yes, we have had some great performances over the years by guys like Len Beresofrd (3-home run game vs. Yukon NWT), but 10 home runs in one tournament solidified his spot in the upper echelon of canadian softball. When Colin Abbott, once heralded as the Mark Mcgwire of softball, puts Mullaley on a pedastal, that says something. Now on to the comments in Saturdays paper, well Robin here’s some stats for you as I know you love stats: Russ Howard was an integral member of the gold medal winning Brad Gushue team – not a NL’er, the Rock have too many players from other provinces to count, how about John Browne’s beloved Seahawks……team full of NL’ers? Not a chance. The 2011 Clarenville Caribous and 1986 Corner Brook Royals both had numerous imports, our baseball team isn’t even sending a team to the nationals this year……….and how many National Championships have they won? How many years have they gone and came back with one win, beating PEI by a run or two? ……...but yet all appeared on the front page of the Telegram when they won and were raved about. Why did you choose to speak about them the way you did?. If you can muster the confidence to do so, why not head up to Lions Park some night this week and see just how talented our players are, I’m sure you’ll be welcomed with open arms at the ballpark. Perhaps you should stick on a helmet and face a Sean Cleary, or Ward Gosse. Perhaps you can sit and tell some of the boys about all the National Championships you’ve appeared in…….Great job Kenny, there are some that could learn something from you.

    • BamBam
      September 04, 2012 - 08:03

      Just wanted to make note of something that should not go unrecognized. Shane Boland completed a triple crown that may have never ever been accomplished before. Just weeks ago he won a Jr. National Championship, followed that up with a Gold medal at the ISC championships, now this weekend he helped NL capture the Sr. National championship. And Shane wasn't just along for the ride, he contributed 3 HR's for the powerhouse NL squad. Hang your head high kid, that's a great feat. The future of NL softball looks great.