Kitchener’s Crawford delivers death blow to Twins

August 18, 2014

Kitchener, ON


ORIGINAL STORY by Christine Rivest


Kitchener’s Crawford delivers death blow to Twins

Christine Rivet

9 hours ago

KITCHENER — Organizers here couldn't do much about the mostly miserable weather throughout the week-long International Softball Congress world tournament.

But when the host Kitchener Hallman Twins squared off with the Hill United Chiefs in Saturday night's title game, local fans who braved the elements could do nothing but cheer.

Two former long-serving Twins were instrumental in the Chiefs' nail-biting 3-2 win over the Kitchener squad before about 3,000 soggy fans at Peter Hallman Ball Yard.

Hill United third baseman Craig Crawford, of Kitchener, stepped to the plate in the bottom of the seventh and coolly stroked a one-out single to cash in the winning run.

His hit gave the joyous squad from Six Nations, Ont., its second straight world club team championship and delivered a seventh consecutive ISC title to a Canadian-based team.

On Saturday night, Crawford, 42, and dragged out of retirement earlier this summer by longtime friend and another former Twin, Chiefs coach Larry Lynch, rewrote the ending of a previous ISC plate appearance with the game on the line.

While wearing a Twins uniform at the 2002 ISC worlds held on this same diamond, Crawford struck out with the bases loaded in a semifinal to end the game in a loss to the old Broken Bow Travelers from Nebraska.

"That one haunted me for 12 years. I wasn't going to miss my opportunity this time," Crawford said Saturday.

Lynch, a longtime Kitchener resident and with the Twins for 20 years before philosophical differences drove him to the Chiefs, said despite Crawford's previous 0-for-2 night at the plate, he never once considered sending in a pinch-hitter.

"I went up to Craig before his at-bat and I said: 'You are going to step up there and get the game-winning hit right here and you will enjoy it all.'

"And by God, he delivered."

After winning seven straight through the losers' bracket since Tuesday, Hallman's Wallbangers were mostly silenced in the title game save for Marshall Kronk's two-run blast into the bleachers to give the Twins a brief 2-0 lead in the third.

Chiefs outfielder Jeff Ellsworth, named the tournament's MVP, answered right back with a two-run dinger of his own in the home half of the third.

Hill United's Aussie hurler Adam Folkard summoned a masterful two-hitter in the final, striking out 12 en route to being named the event's top pitcher.

"It obviously made it tougher (for Kitchener) coming through the losers' bracket," said the soft-spoken champ who went 6-0 here. "But you could see their batters were just locked in."

"A great pitcher, a great pitcher," Twins field manager Steve Kooser said of Folkard.

"I don't think (Twins sponsor) Jim (Hallman) or myself could be any prouder of our guys — backs against the wall in every game since Monday. As good a bunch of guys as I've ever worked with."

The Twins' Kiwi ace Jeremy Manley surrendered six hits in taking the loss.

Lynch said he had mixed emotions after winning his fourth world title Saturday night.

"It was bittersweet for me because I'll always be a Twin. They came back on the losers' side and smashed the ball here all week.

"Both (Manley and Folkard) threw great games. And it came down to whoever got the last swing was going to win it."

Earlier Saturday, Kitchener defeated the second-seeded Clifton Park, N.Y. Gremlins 10-2 and then dumped PA Power from Harrisburg, Pa. 7-4.

Manley and his Kitchener teammates Freddie Terkelsen, Ryan Wolfe, Ian Fehrman, Jerome Raemaki and Kronk were named to the ISC's all-world teams.

In the ISC's legends (over 50) final, the Cobourg Force prevailed over the Toronto Gators 8-7 in 10 innings.

Ageless Waterloo businessman and Cobourg first baseman Sam Forbes was named the player of the game. The 61-year-old scored the winning run, sliding under a throw to the plate in the bottom of the 10th.

In the junior men's final, Midland, Mich. downed Alvinston, Ont. 1-0.


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