Royals cream of fastball crop

The streets of Rainy River were filled with car horns after the hometown Royals nipped the Bulldogs 3-2 in the final of the Rainy River District Fastball League playoffs last night.
The Royals, back in the RRDFL this season after a hiatus spanning several years, had finished in first place with a 16-2-1 record during the regular season—and capped it off with an undefeated run through the playoffs.
Don Copenace had opened the game for the Bulldogs with a lead-off single past Rainy River second baseman Darren Davidson.
After Milt Strachan failed to advance Copenace, grounding into a fielder’s choice, Brent Tookenay followed with a fly to centre field.
Rainy River starting pitcher Murray Armstrong then fanned Warren Voth, his counterpart with the Bulldogs, to end the inning.
Voth took little time retiring the first three batters of the Royals lineup, forcing a flyout and two grounders.
Dennis Mounk got the only hit in the second inning—an inning which otherwise saw the pitchers exchanging outs.
Armstrong was rolling along with two outs in the third when Milt Strachan hit a homer to straight-away centre. But Armstrong then induced a weak grounder back to himself and was able to throw out Grant Swire at first.
Rainy River made their charge with a two-out rally in their half of the third.
With one out, Darren Davidson singled up the middle. After Al Pratt struck out, Rick Tymkin hit a double into the gap to score Davidson. Guy Arpin followed that with a single that scored Tymkin, then advanced to third on the throw to home plate.
Don Gall followed Arpin with an RBI single that put the Royals up 3-1. Gall was stranded at first after Jim Chorney grounded out to end the inning.
Armstrong and Voth dominated the hitters in the fourth and fifth innings. Armstrong retired all six batters he faced while Voth retired six of seven.
Don Copenace put some life back into the Bulldogs, leading off the sixth inning with a homer. But the six-time defending RRDFL champs were unable to mount any more offence after that.
With two outs, Warren Voth hit a double, but was stranded as Marcel Page struck out. Arguing the call, Page was ejected from the game.
Don Gall led off the bottom of the sixth for Rainy River with a single and advanced to second on a passed ball, but he was stranded there as Voth battled back to fan the next three batters.
Armstrong came out with heat in the seventh, forcing Shane Bliss to ground out and then striking out Dennis Mounk. He then allowed a single to Grant Swire, but that would be the closest the Bulldogs would come to tying the score as Don Larson flew out to left to end the game.
“The boys all did their thing. Murray pitched a hell of a game, but the guys all did what they had to do,” said Gall, the Royals catcher.
“It was a total team effort,” agreed Royals manager Guy Arpin. “We knew this would be a tough game. It’s sweet. Our guys earned it.”
The RRDFL officially ends its season with the annual league windup banquet next month in Bergland.