Host team suffers just one loss. The bad news is that it came against Vancouver in a winner-take-all final
Jubilant members of the Vancouver Grey Sox celebrate their 1-0 win over Roebothan McKay and Marshall, the Host team, in Sundays final game of the 2007 Canadian senior mens fastpitch championship at the Caribou Memorial softball complex in St. Johns. Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram
There were a number of different reactions on the Roebothan McKay and Marshall bench at the conclusion of the Labatt 2007 Canadian senior mens fastpitch championship Sunday.
A couple of helmets were thrown in anger and mire than a few obscenities blued the air, but most RMM players sat quietly, looking straight ahead in stunned silence as the Vancouver Grey Sox celebrated their national title on the field at the Caribou Complex.
After winning its first 10 games, including two victories over the Grey Sox, the Host team that once looked unbeatable was defeated 1-0 in the championship game.
It was a result that left some players looking devastated, others irate, while a few appeared as though they simply couldnt believe what had just happened.
I dont know we came up short and thats the way it is. They scored a run and we didnt, thats what it comes down to, Roebothan McKay and Marshall outfielder and future Newfoundland Softball Hall of Famer Colin Abbott said.
We just ran into a hot pitcher Hes been hot all year.
That hot pitcher was Korrey Gareau, who allowed only five hits and no walks, while striking our eight in seven shutout innings.
The loss left the more than 5,000 fans in attendance silent as well, as they filed out of Caribou without much chatter. Much like the players, the fans realized Newfoundlands quest to finally win a national senior mens fastpitch title would have to wait at lest one more year.
Were disappointed, theres no question. We wanted to be the first ones to get the gold medal (for Newfoundland), but it wasnt meant to be, Abbott said.
The fact the winning run was unearned likely added to the frustration felt by Roebothan McKay and Marshall.
Vancouvers Bob Giesbrecht reached base in the top of the sixth after his ground ball was bobbled by Roebothan McKay and Marshall shortstop Geoff Evely. Evely managed to knock the ball down, but was unable to get off a throw to first before Giesbrecht reached the bag.
Two batters later, Vancouvers Doug Cain doubled off RMMs Frank Cox to score Giesbrecht with what turned out to be the only run of the game. The Grey Sox leaped out of their dugout when Giesbrecht scored, with several players banging on the roof in celebration. The run took the wind out of the fans spirits for a stretch, with the ball park becoming so quiet you could likely hear a pin drop.
Despite Evelys miscue and the important role it played in Sundays final, it was apparent his teammates did not blame the young shortstop for the loss.
Hes been outstanding on defence all week, Roebothan McKay and Marshalls Ward Gosse said of Evely after the final. We should have put ourselves in a position where we bunch together some hits and scored some runs.
The Host team had its chances to send runners across the plate, but failed to capitalize on every occasion. It looked to answer Vancouvers run in the bottom of the sixth when tourney MVP Stephen Mullaley singled with one out and then promptly stole second.
However, Gosse struck out, and after Abbott was intentionally walked, Rob OBrien grounded out to end the threat and the inning.
RMM threatened again in the bottom of the seventh when Blair Ezekiel opened the frame with a leadoff double down the left field line. Darrell Walsh hit a ground ball back to Gareau, who fired a strike to third in time to catch Ezekiel, who was trying to advance on the play.
He probably should have stayed at second, but we got lucky there, Gareau said after the game.
Jason Hill followed Walsh to the plate and hit into a game-ending double play.
Abbott and Gosse gave Gareau credit for the way he handled pressure situations like the one he faced in the seventh.
He moved the ball around today and hes a real gamer. Hes one of the better pitches in the game today, Gosse said.
Cox was a hard-luck loser, striking out 14 and giving up four hits, one walk and the single unearned run in going the distance.
No Vancouver player had more than one hit, while Cain had the games lone RBI. Ezekiel was RMMs top batter, going two-for-three.
Hill, Walsh and Mullaley added singles for Roebothan McKay and Marshall, which finished the tourney with a better record (10-1) than the Grey Sox, who were 10-2, including a 1-2 record head-to-head with RMM.
The host team was awarded a double life throughout the playoffs because of its undefeated round-robin record, but the rules changed for the final, which was a one-game, winner-take-all affair.
The same fate befell Newfoundlands entry at the Canadian junior mens fastpitch championship earlier this summer, when Kellys Pub lost in the championship game without getting the chance to use the double life it earned in the round robin.
I dont want to sound like sour grapes on our part. We lost and I give them full value for their win, but I always believe you should have to be beaten twice in the final if youre undefeated going through the playoffs, Abbott said.
I think thats a fair system, but thats not the way it is. Hey, thats it ... it was one game.
Abbott didnt speculate on what might have happened if the two clubs had to play again, however he was reluctant to call Vancouver the best team in the tournament.
(The Grey Sox) were the better team today, he said. And thats all that matters.