St. John’s Winmar Capitals player-coach Mark Healy put the team’s 3-0 lead over the Corner Brook Barons in the Molson provincial senior baseball final down to “mental toughness.”
St. John’s defeated Corner Brook 2-0 Sunday at St. Pat’s Ball Park to take the commanding lead in the best-of-seven championship series which continues next weekend.
The Caps, who have won the provincial title 13 times in the past 14 years, beat the defending champion Barons 4-3 and 11-2 Saturday.
The series picks up 2 p.m. this Saturday at Jubilee Field in Corner Brook. If the final three games are necessary they will be played 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday on the west coast.
Sunday’s match was a “hell of a game,” said Healy. Kieran (Buckingham) pitched a great game for us as did Frank (Humber) for them.”
He noted there were a few defensive lapses on their side, adding, “We utilized our speed today. We were lucky to get our runs in that game.
“My philosophy,” said Healy, “is pitching and defence first and timely hitting and that’s what we got in the our home games. We played simple baseball.
“Our guys were disciplined in their at-bats and we were able to squeak out a couple of close games. Even the 11-2 game was close with the exception of one inning,” he noted.
Healy said he was too “old school” to make a prediction on the rest of the series, despite his team’s big lead.
“I’ll never say there’s no way we can lose.”
The Caps will be a little shorthanded for the rest of the series,
Gerry Stone and Trevor Clarke both have work commitments and won’t be available to play in Corner Brook.
Healy said anything can happen next weekend, but the goal is to wrap it up Saturday afternoon.
“They’ll probably learn from a couple of mistakes they made here and they’ll be ready for us. If they get that first win they’ll have the momentum. We achieved our goal this weekend, but it’s not in the bag yet.”
Healy, 41, said he’s old enough to remember the Caps blowing a 3-0 lead to the Barons a long time ago.
The Capitals, it should be mentioned, were down 3-0 and came back to win the title in 1983 against the Barons.
St. John’s 2, Corner Brook 0 (Sunday)
Kieran Buckingham tossed a three-hitter and fanned four batters in picking up the win to give the Caps a 3-0 series lead.
Both runs came in the fourth inning. The first came on Steve Crouse’s single that scored Andrew Symonds and the second run on a steal of home by Bernie Madden.
Humber took the loss on a six-hitter.
Gerald Butt had two hits in two at bats for St. John’s.
St. John’s 4, Corner Brook 3 (Game 1, Saturday)
The Caps came from behind a 3-0 deficit with one run in the bottom of the sixth inning and three in the seventh.
Greg Barry, in relief of starter Scott Goosney (6IP, 3R, 8H, 1W, 7K), picked up the win over Mike Tavenor (6.2IP 4R, 7H, 3W, 2K).
James Walsh had a pair of hits for the Caps. Greg Sharpe had two hits for the Barons.
St. John’s 11, Corner Brook 2 (Game 2, Saturday)
The Caps broke open a close game with eight runs in the fifth inning.
Mike Janes tossed a three-hitter with 12 strikeouts to pick up the win.
Darren Colbourne (4IP, 5R, 7H, 3W, 1K) took the loss.
Clarke and Butt had two hits each to pace the winners.