Lightning strikes gold at tourney


“Bo” knows fastball.
Jeffrey (Bo) Thomas was virtually unhittable Sunday–tossing a pair of complete-game shutouts in leading the Big Grassy Lightning to first place in the fifth-annual Sabaskong Lakers/Cubs Men’s Fastball Challenge Tournament.
Thomas, a resident of Peguis First Nation in Manitoba and a friend of Lightning member Chris Jack, threw a no-hitter while striking out 21 batters in a 5-0 shutout of Windey’s Brewers in the final of the 10-team tournament.
That was after shackling the potent Barwick Blue Knights 2-0 in the semi-finals.
The Lightning, who folded before the current Rainy River District Fastball League season, also welcomed back for one weekend former Big Grassy Braves’ pitcher and now Dawson Tigers’ ace Jeff Morrison.
It was Morrison who had pitched the Lightning into the semi-finals before being unavailable Sunday.
But Thomas filled in more than admirably, first stopping Barwick despite giving up several walks and allowing multiple base runners in four different innings.
He then fanned the entire batting order of the Brewers (a combined team of Windey’s Warriors and Couchiching Raiders) before giving up a lead-off walk to Ryan McDonald in the fourth.
That was followed by eight-straight strikeouts until Daymond Morrisseau earned a two-out walk in the sixth.
In Rainy River District Fastball League action from Thursday night, the rematch of last year’s RRDFL final between the Sight & Sound Wolves and host Blue Knights was everything it was hyped up to be–and then some–as Barwick prevailed 4-3 to take over sole possession of second place.
DJ Mosbeck singled home Vaughan Wilson in the first to put the Knights (8-1) up 1-0.
Barwick then looked to have salted it away against starting pitcher John Desaulniers and the Wolves (7-2) with a three-run fourth.
Ryder Woolsey laced a one-out RBI double to right to bring in Brandan Pratt before Kevin Gemmell walked to load the bases.
Desaulniers whiffed Mosbeck but Mike Anderson didn’t let last year’s playoff MVP off the hook–smacking a single to left that plated Wilson and Woolsey to make it 4-0.
But as was the case last year, when every game of the best-of-three final was a one-run difference, the Wolves rallied against Barwick ace JJ Landry.
After a quick two outs in the fifth, Derek McKinnon and Ian Tookenay scraped out infield hits on either side of a Kurtis Wepruk single to fill the bases.
Desaulniers then helped his own cause by ripping a single into left to cash in McKinnon and Wepruk, taking second on the throw home to put the tying run in scoring position.
But Landry induced a sharp one-hopper from Duane Carlson back to the rubber to end the inning.
In the sixth, another two-out rally begun when the normally flawless Wilson gunned a throw wide of first to allow Dan Calvert to reach base.
Calvert took second on a wild pitch and then scored on Matt Dunne’s single to right.
Landry again stemmed the tide, though, as he got Matt Cheetham to pop out to second before tossing a 1-2-3 seventh to preserve the win.
First-place Dawson (9-1), meanwhile, racked up its seventh-straight win with a 13-0 shutout over the Northwest Bay Chieftains (3-5).
Morgan Desserre homered for the Tigers (9-1) while Morrison prevailed in the pitching showdown against Don Smith.
The Stratton Eagles improved to 6-3 after doubling the Northwest Bay Juniors 14-7.
Jackson Arpin not only pitched the Eagles to victory but also cranked a homer, to go along with another from Andy McCormick, off losing pitcher Dan Andy for the winless Juniors (0-7).
The Sabaskong Lakers (5-2) saw their three-game winning streak snapped with an 11-4 loss to Windey’s Warriors (5-5).
Rob McGinnis earned the win while also homering as the Warriors tied the sixth-place Lakers and Couchiching Raiders (5-3) in points by winning back-to-back games for the first time this season.
Pitcher Matt Comegan homered for the Lakers but took the loss.
The Fort Frances Braves (6-0) had both of their games postponed last week.
The Rainy River Royals and Sabaskong Goldeneyes, both 1-6 this season, each had their two games postponed to remain in a three-way for 10th with the Manitou Thunderbirds (1-7).
The Sabaskong Cubs remained winless at 0-9 after falling 4-0 to Couchiching on Thursday.
McDonald went deep for the third-straight game for the Raiders, who got shutout pitching from Wade Johnson.
Mick Copenace was tagged with the loss.
Six games were on the schedule last night, with the scores unavailable at press time.
Action then resumes tomorrow at 7 p.m., with the Braves looking to remain the only undefeated team in the league as they host the Lakers at VanJura.
Couchiching is at home to Stratton, Windey’s will host Rainy River, Dawson visits Northwest Bay to face the Juniors, while the Cubs and Chieftains also will clash at there.
Barwick, Sight & Sound, Manitou, and the Goldeneyes all have the bye.