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Hitmen from St. John's went a long way to maintain their winning habit

September 4, 2019

St. John's, NL - - Hitmen from St. John's went a long way to maintain their winning habit

     - Galway wins three games in one day to give Newfoundland a seventh national senior men’s championship in eight years



Members of the Galway Hitmen celebrate after winning the Canadian senior men's fastpitch championship in Grande Prarie, Alta., on Sunday. The defending champion Hitmen defeated the Sooke, B.C., Loggers 10-7 in the final, giving Newfoundland its seventh national crown in eight years. — Facebook/Galway Hitmen - Facebook

 

ORIGINAL STORY by Brendan McCarthy (brendan.mccarthy@thetelegram.com)

 

Galway wins three games in one day to give Newfoundland a seventh national senior men’s championship in eight years

UPDATED

The Galway Hitmen took the long route to a familiar destination.

The St. John’s-based Hitmen claimed Newfoundland’s seventh Canadian senior men’s fastpitch championship in eight years in Grande Prairie, Alta., over the weekend. And they really had to work for it by winning three straight games on Sunday, including a 10-7 decision over the Sooke Loggers of British Columbia in the tournament final.

Both the defending champion Hitmen and Loggers had been undefeated in the round-robin portion of their schedules, but Galway lost 12-4 in its first game of Page playoffs Saturday to the Hill United Chiefs of Oshwekin, Ont., making its path to the final more difficult.

The Hitmen did have a double playoff life and used that as they won their four subsequent contests, including the three on championship Sunday. That included a 9-7 victory over the host Grande Prairie Pirates and an 8-3 win in a rematch with the Chiefs. That set up the final against the Loggers, who entered without having lost a game all week and had been idle earlier Sunday while Galway had been busy staying alive.

Colin WalshColin Walsh

Galway starting pitcher Colin Walsh (4R, 5H, 4K, 0W) picked up the win against Sooke with five-plus innings of work before giving way to Jordan Pomeroy in the sixth.

In fact, Walsh was the winner in all four of the Hitmen’s playoff wins as he assumed the role of ace in place of Sean Cleary, the longtime Newfoundland and Team Canada stalwart and one of the world’s top pitchers.

Cleary was unavailable for this year’s nationals because of work and family reasons.

“I think that’s what one of the things that makes this win so special,” said Galway head coach Mark Dwyer on Monday. “It shows how much depth we have in Newfoundland right now.

“Colin is a great example with the way he stepped up and did the job this past week, especially in the playoffs

“Actually, with as much talent as we have in our province today, this is a team of a generation. I don’t think anyone will be able to do this again.”

The Hitmen bats, which had been hot all week, remained so in Sunday’s final as the Newfoundlanders jumped out to a 10-2 entering the bottom of the sixth. But Sooke threw a scare into the defending champs, scoring three times in that frame and two more in the seventh before Galway’s pickup pitcher, Saskatoon native Jeff Farion, came in to record the save.

Walsh, Shane Boland and bothers Blair and Brad Ezekiel hit home runs in the game, giving the Hitmen 29 long shots in their 11 games.

Boland and Brad Ezekiel, who was named an all-star outfielder in the tourney, are both members of the current Canadian national senior men’s team, along with fellow Hitmen Jason Hill, Kyle Ezekiel (another brother) and Stephen Mullaley.

 

Three others on the Galway roster — Daniel Dalton, Blair Ezekiel and Walsh, who was named the all-star utility player — are long-listed as part of the national senior team pool.

Dwyer had particular praise for Blair Ezekiel, another player who did stellar work in filling in for another Hitmen and Team Canada regular who couldn’t make it to Saskatoon.

“Blair came in at catcher and did most of the work there in place of Ryan Boland,” said Dwyer.

Blair EzekielBlair Ezekiel

“He was just super behind the plate.”

He was also good at it, with 20 RBIs in the tournament, including four in the championship game.

“I don’t know if the 20 RBIs isn’t a record,” suggested Dwyer.

Both Blair Ezekiel and Shane Boland had three hits in the final. That gave Boland a .515 batting average in the tournament.

Overall, Galway (10-1 in the tourney), had a .372 team BA in Grande Prairie, while scoring 96 runs, or an average of almost nine per outing.

Members of the Hitmen include Shane Boland, Bryan Clarke, Daniel Dalton, Blair Ezekiel, Brad Ezekiel, Kyle Ezekiel, Jeff Farion, Justin Gill, Jason Hill, Peter Kavanagh, Ryan Kirk, Stephen Mullaley, Nick Pittman, Jordan Pomeroy and Colin Walsh; head coach Mark Dwyer, assistant coaches Eddy McDonald, Sean Cadigan and Brian Roche, Danny Williams (team sponsor) and batboy Ryan Jennings.


brendan.mccarthy@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @telybrendan

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