In the end, it was the St. John’s Winmar Capitals’ depth that prevailed in their Molson provincial senior baseball championship series against the Corner Brook Barons.
The Caps defeated the defending champion Barons 6-0 Sunday at Jubilee Field in Corner Brook to claim the team’s 14th provincial senior baseball championship in 15 years.
The Capitals took the best-of-seven series 4-2.
“Our depth was one of the biggest factors,” noted St. John’s playing coach Mark Healy.
“Pitching-wise for sure, and the ability to go to the bench and make a lot of moves such as pinch hitting and running … those types of scenarios.”
The Caps went into Corner Brook with a 3-0 lead after sweeping the first part of the series the previous weekend at St. Pat’s Field in St. John’s. Corner Brook won twice Saturday at Jubilee to set up Sunday’s Game 6, which saw the visiting Capitals get the one-two punch of pitching and hitting to finally get the clinching victory.
“I wasn’t surprised they (Barons) won a game or two,’ said Healy. “
They were battling hard and they got two good pitching performances for their wins.”
Healy had a talk with the team Sunday morning and basically told his players to “sit down and relax and rest. You could tell there was a little nervousness in some of the guys’ faces. It was more about getting refocused.”
“We wanted to score early today (Sunday) to give our pitcher some confidence and that’s what we did. Those early runs put the pressure on them.”
On Sunday, the Caps scored the only run they needed in the first inning before adding three more in the second. Gerry Stone hit a two-run homer in the top of the seventh inning for the final score.
Stone, who didn’t play Saturday because of work commitments, was a late addition to the Caps’ lineup Sunday morning, as was Dave Parsons.
“We weren’t 100 per cent sure they’d make it out, so we kept it quiet,” said Healy.
“But when the guys walked in this morning, there were a lot of happy faces around the dugout.”
Healy said both teams are at a stage where they have a very good mix of veterans and up-and-coming players.
“(The Barons) have got younger players like Travis Taylor and Grant Vincent and we’ve got Matt Murphy and Dan Connors and each team also has some good veteran leadership,” said Healy, who expects the rivalry will only get tighter in future years.
Veteran St. John’s first baseman Andrew Symonds, who had six hits, a couple of clutch RBIs and was solid in the field, was selected the most valuable player of the championship series.
“It was typical Andrew Symonds performance wearing a Caps’ jersey,” said Healy.
Greg Barry, a native of Pasadena, tossed the deciding win for St. John’s, going the distance and allowing just three hits.
“I hit my spots pretty well today,” Barry told The Western Star, while also crediting his team’s defence.
“They made every play for me and that’s what’s going to win ball games — good defence and pitching.”
Barry got the nod as the top pitcher of the series with a 2-0 record. Taylor, the Corner Brook shortstop, was the tournament’s top batter with a .462 average
Taylor liked how the Barons clawed back in the series, but couldn’t provide an answer for why his team’s bats didn’t produce any magic in the decisive game.
“We just couldn’t put any hits together and we had a few mistakes in the field, but that’s how it goes sometimes,” he said.
Barons’ player-coach Darren Colbourne started on the mound Sunday and took the loss, giving up five hits over two innings. Adam Warren finished up for Corner Brook.
Mike Brake had two hits to pace the Barons’ offence in Game 6.
Corner Brook 9, St. John’s 3
Travis Taylor collected three hits in three at bats to pace the Barons. Michael Tavenor pitched a four-hitter for the victory with five strikeouts.
Steve Hynes had two hits for the winners, including a solo home run. Jeff Gillam and Perry Alexander each had two hits for the Barons.
Ron French went two-for-three for the Capitals.
Corner Brook 3, St. John’s 2
Grant Vincent came off the bench to drive in the winning run in the seventh inning.
Vincent’s single scored Travis Taylor who led off the inning with a double.
Frank Humber pitched the over Scott Goosney.
With files from The Western Star