It was a tournament that the Bay d’Espoir Academy Predators and their coaches may never forget as they won the 3A High School Provincial Slo-Pitch Championship at an eight team event that was played in Milltown-Head of Bay d’Espoir on October 12 and 13.
In addition to the host school, teams from Baltimore High, Ferryland; French Shore Academy, Port Saunders; Heritage Collegiate, Lethbridge; Cape John Collegiate, La Scie; Templeton Academy, Meadows; John Burke High, Grand Bank/Fortune and Pearson Academy, New-Wes-Valley- saw action in the exciting event.
The top two teams in Divison A following round robin play were Bay d’Espoir Academy Predators with a 3 and 0 record and the French Shore Academy Warriors who were 2 and 1.
The Baltimore High Broncos were tops in Division B with a 3 and 0 count while the Heritage Collegiate Huskies were second at 2 and 1.
The Predators took on the Huskies in the first semi-final match in the cross over format between divisions.
As they say in sports, it’s a brand new season or event when the play-offs start and you never know what might happen, as the strongest teams on paper don’t always win.
However, the Predators proved to be the dominant team in this match and won by a 19 to 9 score.
One of the best games of the tournament followed between the Broncos and the Warriors from the French Shore Academy.
The Broncos were on their game in the first innings of the match and seemed to be on their way to an easy victory.
However, a win is not always guaranteed in sports and the Warriors were not about to roll over and quit.
Going into the top of the seventh inning the Broncos were leading 8 to 3. However, thanks to some timely hitting, the Warriors rallied to score 6 runs to go ahead 9 to 8.
The Broncos had the bottom of the inning to recapture the lead. Their first batter flew out and the Warriors could have had two out with no runs in, as there was a very close play at third that went in favour of the Broncos. With the bases loaded and one out, the Broncos got the strong hit they needed, scored two runs and won the thrilling game 10 to 9.
The tournament came down to a contest between the top two teams at the tournament – the Predators and the Broncos. Both groups were now 4 and 0 and the championship match could have gone either way.
To get to a final match in any provincial high school tournament is very elusive. Many high school students who participate in sports never get to play in a championship match.
Getting to this level of play is very rare and winning a high school sports banner is special for all high school athletes and their coaches.
So, both teams were out to win and the early innings were really close.
The Broncos scored three runs in the top of the first inning only to see the Predators tie the score on three run blast by Predator Ryan Younge.
The score was five to five after the second inning and neither side seemed to be able to go ahead to stay.
The momentum started to shift, however, in the third inning.
The Predators, on the strong pitching of Luke Follow, and some key defensive plays by his teammates, held the Broncos scoreless in the next three innings.
While honing up their defensive play, the Predators continued to pound the ball and scored 10 runs in their final three at bats to win the game and the provincial 3A slo-pitch banner by a 15 to 5 score.
Loyola Kavanagh, the Broncos’ coach said, “We made a few mistakes that cost us some runs but that’s the way the games go. It’s often the team that makes the fewest mistakes who comes out the winner in these events.
“The Predators are a strong team too and our hats are off to them. We had a great tournament, which was organized really well by the way, and we’ll be back again next school year.”
Shawn Fowlow, the Predators’ coach said, “Our win was the culmination of perfect hitting, aggressive base running, phenomenal defense and incredible pitching. The entire team played beyond our expectations which accounts for this first ever high school sports banner for the new Bay d’Espoir Academy.
“We only have two Level 111s, so we’ll have a strong team again next school year and plans are already in place to help us defend our title in 2013-2014.”
The eight teams represented at the 3A tournament each named a sportsmanship winner, which is based on a player’s sense of fair play and attitude.
The individual winners were: Bay d’Espoir Academy, Ryan Younge; Baltimore High, Carl Fennelly; Heritage Collegiate, Lucas Strong; John Burke High, Nicholas Dorey; Pearson Academy, Doug Welcher, Cape John Collegiate, Noah Burton; Templeton Collegiate, Taylor White and French Shore Academy, Ryan House.
The Heritage Collegiate Huskies from Lethbridge won the Team Sportsmanship banner, which is based on a team’s dedication to the sport and to their fair play and cooperation with all coaches and umpiring staff at a tournament.