Perhaps not surprisingly, members of the Galway Hitmen were more interested in celebrating their Canadian men’s senior fastpitch championship than talking about a playoff-game scuffle after capping off an almost-perfect performance at the national tourney over the long weekend in Nova Scotia.
Hitmen catcher Ryan Boland hit a grand slam home run in Sunday’s final against the B.C. Loggers, punctuating a perfect 9-0 run for his team and gave Newfoundland its sixth Canadian senior men’s crown in seven years.
Earlier Saturday, there was a brouhaha in a playoff-round contest at St. Croix, N.S., between the Hitmen and Loggers, both possessor of double lives in the championship round.
It started after a first-inning collision at home plate between Hitmen baserunner Mathieu Roy and Loggers pitcher Scott Lieph. The benches emptied and some punches were thrown as players and coaches conglomerated between the first-base line and Sooke bench.
Galway sponsor and general manager Danny Williams, the former Newfoundand and Labrador premier, was part of the gathering but wasn’t part of the physical exchange, with some observers suggesting he had acted as more of a peacemaker.
Still, Loggers manager John Bishop objected.
“Williams had no business going on the field because he was not a coach or manager, and was not in uniform,” said Bishop after the game.
Williams, who was wearing a Galway team jacket Saturday, is listed as the Hitmen’s general manager, as well as well as their sponsor, on the team roster.
Softball Canada described Williams as a legitimate member of the Newfoundland entry.
Mike Branchaud, a spokesman for the national body, confirmed Williams was, "part of the team staff there."
"It lasted probably a whole 20 seconds — the actual shoving," Branchaud told the Canadian Press about the dust-up. "Both teams were given warnings and a strict talking-to ... No staff members were involved. It was strictly players."
After things settled and umpires conferred, Roy, teammate Blair Ezekiel and Loggers catcher Kyle Cowick were ejected from the game. Lieph was also given the toss in the third inning after plunking Boland with a pitch, but no more disciplinary action was taken after the contest, which the Newfoundland team won 7-0.
However, Softball Canada did issue a statement saying that any further such incidents would result in transgressors being expelled from the tournament and left open the possibility that teams could forfeit games.
"It was an unfortunate incident and it was dealt with accordingly," said Branchaud. "A lot of players patched things up that evening."
There were no shenanigans as the Hitmen and Loggers met again Sunday, with the Newfoundlanders prevailing 8-0 in a game ended by the mercy rule after Boland’s fifth-inning grand slam.
Williams was again in the Galway dugout for Sunday’s contest, but was reportedly not wearing his team jacket. He was wearing a shirt with the Galway colours.
With files from East Hants Journal/SaltWire NetWork and The Canadian Press