The Gord Closson Forest Products Fastball Club overcame a rough start at the BC Cup tournament in Cedar last weekend to finish atop the field.
"It did feel good at the end, but it didn’t feel good at the beginning," Closson manager Joe DiLalla said.
The team started the tournament, which last year replaced the senior B provincials, with a 1-0 loss to their Nanaimo rivals, Palladian, on Saturday morning. Pitcher Korrey Gareau struck out 15 and gave up just two hits over seven innings, but one of those hits was a home run, which was all the offence Palladian needed.
"We never gave him any support," DiLalla lamented.
Early Saturday afternoon, the Duncan team got in the win column with a 5-1 victory over the Sooke Smoke. Gareau again pitched seven innings, surrendering just four hits while striking out 18. Closson got most of their offence on a pair of homers: a solo blast by Brad Forrest in the fourth inning and a three-run shot by Marty Steen in the fifth. Greg Snyder knocked in the other run as part of a 3-for-3 game, while Trevor Gicas went 2-for-4, and Brad Robinson and Dave Devana were both 1-for-3.
Later that afternoon the team picked up an 8-5 win over Vancouver’s Meralomas. They collected 13 hits in the contest, including a two-run homer by Dennis Ewart and a solo blast by Dom Mansueti two batters later. Steen and Snyder had three hits apiece, Chad Bryden had two, and Forrest, Robinson and Devana added one each.
On Saturday evening, Closson faced the top team in the other division, host club Wheatsheaf, and won 3-0. Gareau once more pitched seven innings, allowing just two hits while issuing 13 strikeouts. The Duncan team picked up three hits in the game, including a two-run triple by Gicas in the first and a solo homer by Forrest in the sixth. Devana had the other hit.
With that win, they jumped right into the final on Sunday, where they beat Meralomas
4-1 in a rematch. Forrest and Snyder were both 3-for-3, with Forrest collecting three RBIs. Steen had two hits, and Bryden, Ewart and Mansueti had one each.
It marked the first senior men’s fastball championship for a Cowichan team since the Duncan Pipers won in 2006. The sport was largely dormant in the Valley after that, until the Closson club was born this year. The accomplishment of beating the BC Cup field wasn’t lost on DiLalla.
"They’re probably the top teams in B.C., so for us it’s a big deal," he said.
Closson will play for the Nanaimo Senior Men’s Fastball League championship this Wednesday in Nanaimo.