Three-up, three-down innings don’t come along very often in slowpitch. However, one couldn’t have come at a better time for Whitehorse’s P & M Recycling Guns.
With a slim, one-run lead over the Southeast Mine Supply Miners from Juneau, Alaska, in the final inning, the Guns sent three straight batters packing to win the Men’s A division of the Dustball International Tournament at the Pepsi Softball Complex on Sunday. The final score was 23-22.
“You don’t get a lot of three-up, three-down innings in slowpitch, especially against a team that hit us so well the day before,” said Guns first baseman Mike Tuton. “They ran themselves into trouble with the home runs, and I think we managed that part of the game a lot better than they did. You can only be up by two home runs at a time.
“They almost have too many home run hitters.”
Tied 17-17 going into the sixth inning, Guns’ Jessie Ritchie gave his team the lead with a three-run homer to left field. Teammate Doug Roberts then hit a solo home run to make it 21-17.
In the bottom of the inning with bases loaded, the Miners narrowed the gap with a walk forcing in a run before Juneau’s Nick Andrews drove in two more with a line drive to centre field, eventually ending the inning up 22-21.
The Guns then took back the lead on a two-run homer from Rob LaRose at the top of the seventh.
The quick glove of Guns shortstop Craig Claggett closed the book on the game, snatching a line drive in mid-flight for the final out.
“He’s always been a leader on the team,” said Tuton. “He’s one of the best shortstops we’ve ever had.”
The game marked the Guns’ seventh consecutive appearance in the Men’s A final, having won it last year against Chico’s Bail Bonds from Skagway, who finished in third this year. It was the Miners’ first A final, having won the B and C divisions in past years.
“This is probably one of the strongest teams we’ve had in a long time,” said Tuton. “From the 10 guys on the field to the five guys on the bench. When you have a strong bench they can come in and change the game and, I think, that really gave us the advantage.”
Donkeys buck Lynden in co-ed A final
Like the other division A winners at Dustball, the Whitehorse Dental Donkeys had a score to settle with their Juneau competitors in the co-ed A division final.
Just as the women’s and men’s A divisions champs took losses to the Juneau teams they went on to defeat in the final, the Donkeys did the same, downing the Juneau’s Lynden Co-ed 7-3 for the title.
Lynden had won their previous encounter handily.
“They crushed us; it was 14-2 or something like that,” said Donkey’s Derek Baldwin. “We were playing in the rainstorm and just couldn’t get things going.
“Today we played pretty tight defensively. Yesterday we made all kinds of errors and they hit the ball where we couldn’t catch it. It was kind of embarrassing actually.”
The Donkeys trotted into the lead with a three-run homer from Craig Claggett in the first inning and expanded the lead on a two-run shot from Troy Cairns in the sixth.
The Lynden team, which won Juneau’s Wood Bat Tournament earlier this season, finished in second last year under the name Kappler Computers.
“They came back strong and they did well,” said Lynden captain Myria Newport. “We just didn’t string some hits together. It was a good game and we’re happy that we came.”
The Donkeys defeated third-place finisher, Frank’s Auto Detail, 22-13 to reach the final.
Yukon Gold brews fourth straight title
For the fourth consecutive year, Yukon Gold ended Dustball as the top women’s A division team.
The Whitehorse team secured the women’s title with a 13-4 win over Juneau’s YKAK, which included some Yukon players.
“It was a real team effort today,” said Yukon Gold captain Carol Fields. “One of the issues we had when we played them yesterday, we had problems in the outfield, judging the ball. We’d never seen them hit before and we made some adjustments and our outfield ate everything up.
“I don’t think we missed a ball today, including the one the umpire said we did, but didn’t.”
Yukon Gold came through the bottom of the draw after sustaining a 19-13 loss to YKAK on Saturday.
“We were slow starting in the first couple innings and picked it up in the end, but it was too late,” said Fields. “So it was nice to have won last night to meet them in the finals here today.
“We came in knowing we would have to be really intense and from the start of the game we knew we would have to play as hard as we could.”
It was an intense start indeed, with Yukon Gold jumping out to a 7-0 lead by the end of the second and 8-0 by the end of the third.
“They were on their bats, we weren’t,” said YKAK shortstop Neisha Bicudo. “They were hitting the ball and we failed to do so.
“Props to their pitcher.”
Taking third in the division was White Pass from Skagway, Alaska.
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