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Veteran Farrell delivers softball championship with walkoff homer

Veteran John Farrell stepped to the plate at Lions Park in the bottom of seventh inning Sunday, and did what many ball players dream about, hitting the game-winning home run to give his team the provincial championship.

Farrell’s two-run jack in the bottom half of the seventh gave the Kelly’s Pub Molson Bulldogs a 4-3 win over NTV Hitmen, and the all-Newfoundland senior men’s softball championship.

Kelly’s will now represent the province at the national championship next summer in Nova Scotia.

The soon-to-be 44-year-old Farrell is a veteran of the senior softball battles, suiting up for an array of teams, including his native Conception Bay Central squads, since 1991.

“Or maybe 1990,” he said. “It’s definitely 20-plus years … I’ve been to about 15 nationals.”

But Farrell hasn’t been playing a lot of senior ball lately. He got an inning or two in for Kelly’s this season, but that was it.

For the senior provincials, Bulldogs coach Jim Dunphy added Farrell to the 17-man roster as a seniority move, if nothing else. Besides, Farrell was in St. John’s anyway, coaching a girls’ team.

For the final on Sunday, Farrell was on the bench, a veteran presence if you will, when right-fielder Scott Myers tweaked his wonky back.

Unable to continue, Farrell was called on to hit for Myers in the seventh with one out, and NTV clinging to a 3-2 lead.

Robbie Greene got ahead in the count 1-2 when the big right-hander unfurled a riseball with his fourth pitch.

“I was in protection mode,” said Farrell, “but I thought this was a decent pitch.”

Farrell got all of it, sending the ball to the left of centrefield, over the head of NTV’s Danny Mullins and over the fence for the walkoff dinger.

“It’s quite a thrill,” said Farrell. “I still haven’t come down yet. It’s pretty neat.”

Sean Cleary (9H, 1W, 13K) got the win over hard-luck loser Greene (5H, 2W, 14K).

Blair Ezekiel was two-for-three for the winners, both hits home runs. Greene, Ryan Boland and Brad Ezekiel each had a pair of hits in a losing cause.

In semifinal play, Kelly’s beat The Bigs 5-4 in eight innings, while the Hitmen outlasted 3 Cheers Pub Bud Light Dodgers 12-10 in eight innings.

It’s the first time in the history of the provincials the two semifinals went extra innings.

It was also the first time in history the final was decided in October.

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