There were some new faces in the lineup this past weekend, but the final outcome was the same as the St. John’s Capitals strung together five straight wins Friday, Saturday and Sunday at St. Pat’s Ball Park to cop another Molson provincial junior A baseball championship.
It was the third straight all-Newfoundland junior A title and ‘Ank’ Murphy Memorial Trophy win for the Caps, and 10th in the last 11 years.
The Caps beat their old rival, the Corner Brook Barons, 4-3 in a well-played championship game Sunday afternoon at St. Pat’s.
“I’m losing five players from this year’s team,” said coach Sean Gulliver, “but we had four first-years this weekend, and they all played and got their feet wet.
“They’ll play bigger roles next season, and we’ll have more players come into the fold. It’s the cycle of junior baseball … players come and go. But we continue to have a good supply of talent coming in.”
Among the veterans celebrating their final all-Newfoundland junior championship were tournament MVP Eric McKay, Danny Rice, James Locke, Ben Murphy and Dylan McKenzie.
The rookies included Dylan Morgan, Jacob Reid, Jacob Gillis and Cody Dalton.
Sunday, St. John’s grabbed a 1-0 lead, but Corner Brook responded with a pair of runs of their own before the Caps regained the lead.
The Barons tied it in the top of the fifth inning, but the Caps took the lead for good in the bottom half of the inning.
“This was a really well-played ball game,” Gulliver said. “Pitching was good, there was some fine defensive plays that saw both teams get out of jams, and each team got timely hitting.”
Graham King (5.2IP, 6H, 3R, 1ER, 2BB, 6K) started for St. John’s and was credited with the win, before surrendering to Nick Evans (1.1IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 1K), who recorded the save.
Andrew Flood (6.0IP, 7H, 4R, 1ER, 1BB, 1K) was the hard-luck loser in an impressive outing.
Rice scored three of his team’s four runs, and Joel Abbott knocked in a pair of runs for the Caps. The Barons’ Braden Lockyer was the only batter in the game with two hits.
Players of the game were King and Flood.
Stephen Crooks of the Mount Pearl Blazers was the top batter with a sizzling .800 average, and Michael Lewis of the Grand Falls-Windsor Braves was the top pitcher, in part due to his complete-game, seven-hit, eight-strikeout effort in a 4-3 round-robin win over the C.B.S. Raiders.
St. John’s and Corner Brook lapped the field in the junior A provincials, with the Caps at 4-0 in the round-robin followed by the Barons at 3-1. Mount Pearl, Grand Falls-Windsor and C.B.S. all languished at 1-3.