In a span of three days, a crew of some of the best fastball players in the district went from three losses and a quick exit to three wins and the top of the mountain.
Murray Armstrong held the opposing bats at bay while he and the rest of the squad representing the Rainy River District Fastball League struck early and often to claim an 11-1 victory in three innings over the California Raisins in the ‘A’ final of the 51st edition of the Vassar Ball Tournament this past weekend in Vassar, Man.
RRDFL’s Cole Allan slid in just under the tag at home to open the scoring with two out in the first, a close play which seemed to undo the Raisins, who surrendered five more runs before finally escaping the inning to trail 6-0.
The locals tacked on two more in the second and then brought the 10-run mercy rule into effect in the third with three more to close it out, with Ian Tookenay finishing off the Raisins for good with a two-run double that provided the winning margin.
Armstrong was solid all day, pitching an immaculate inning (three strikeouts, nine strikes on nine pitches) to conclude RRDFL’s 9-4 opening win over the Eagles and following that up with a victorious 6-3 effort against the Border Kings during pool play.
The righthander was joined by Earl Ivall and his sons Connor, Ronan and Grady Ivall as well as Shelby Nosan in hailing from the Stratton Frequency Hearing Eagles, which finished first in the RRDFL regular season.
Stratton swept its semifinal series against the Sabaskong Lakers last week to advance to the best-of-three final beginning with Game 1 tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. in Stratton against either the defending champion Sight and Sound Wolves or the Manitou Thunderbirds (the other semifinal was not decided as of press time).
Tookenay (Dawson Tigers), Allan along with D.J. Mosbeck (Barwick Blue Knights) and Matt Booth (Sight and Sound) rounded out the RRDFL roster in Vassar.
The Stratton contingent (minus Nosan and Earl Ivall), along with Tookenay, Allan, Mosbeck, Booth and Wolves teammate Aaron Caul, this year’s RRDFL home run champion Jackson McLeod from Sabaskong and Manitou ace Bob Andy played together last week as the Northern Extremes, going 0-3 in the ‘A’ Division of the North American Fastpitch Association (NAFA) World Series in Eau Claire, Wisc.
The Canadian began the tourney with a 5-3 loss against Duluth FP (Cerro Gordo, Mn.,), as the Extremes let a 3-2 lead after four slip away by giving up two in the fifth and one in the sixth.
It was more heartbreak in their second outing against the California-based Morongo Men’s Club, with the Maple Leaf crew fighting all the way back from a 4-0 deficit to lead 5-4 after a four-run top of the seventh to sit three outs away from the win.
But the West Coast warriors tied it in the bottom of the inning and then scratched out a run in the extra frame to take a 6-5 decision in eight innings.
With one last chance to stay alive in the tourney, the Extremes ran into a buzzsaw in the form of Lifetime Seamless Gutters out of Wisconsin, who busted open a 1-0 game with a six-run fifth inning to clinch a 7-0 mercy rule victory.