Long ball heartbreak for Astros
Bay Roberts school denied chance at third consecutive provincial title
The boys’ AAAA high school softball championship was one for the ages.
The two-time defending champions Ascension Collegiate Astros of Bay Roberts met the Queen Elizabeth Pioneers of Conception Bay South in a heavyweight battle to determine the champion at the Carbonear Recreation Complex on Oct. 19.
There was drama, tense moments, lead changes and emotion. Everything you would want when the two undefeated teams clashed to determine the province’s best.
It was softball’s version of Ali and Frazier in Manilla.
The teams traded leads going into the top of the sixth inning. With the Astros leading 10-8, the team hit four home runs to push its lead to six. Johnny Butler, Brady Barrett, Brandon Moriarity and Stephen Mercer all crushed balls over the fence.
By the bottom of the seventh inning, the Astros were up 14-11 and clung to a three run advantage when the Pioneers stepped to the plate.
The team needed three outs to claim its third straight provincial title.
However, a victory was not in the cards for Ascension.
Queen Elizabeth erased the deficit with a three-run home run, setting up the emotional finish.
The Pioneers would end the game two batters later after a linedrive home run flied over the left field fence, making the final 16-14.
“It was anybody’s game,” said Astros coach Trevor Dixon. “I think we were capable of winning that game.
“Both teams hit really well, and there were some really nice defensive plays.”
The Astros were considered the favourites heading into the tournament, having captured the previous two provincial banners.
Dixon praised the work done by his team over the course of the tournament.
“They’re an excellent group of kids and they played hard all weekend,” he said.
The silver medal marked the third straight medal finish for the Astros.
The Astros were one of three local teams participating in the tournament. The championship game was not the only tense match Ascension found itself in.
In its semifinal game, the Astros squared off with the Laval Cavaliers of Placentia.
It was a defensive battle on both sides. Ascension trailed 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning.
With Stewart Brazil on first base, Bradley Riggs ended the game with a two-run home run to push the Astros into the finale.
In the round-robin, Ascension bested Holy Trinity, Gander Collegiate and Laval.
En route to the semifinals, the Cavaliers defeated Clarenville High, Carbonear Collegiate and lost to Queen Elizabeth.
The host Carbonear Collegiate Sentinels started off the tournament with a win over Clarenville, before dropping its next two games to Laval and Queen Elizabeth.
Carbonear Collegiate first baseman Michael Hancock anticipates a ball being hit his way during AAAA provincial softball action at the Carbonear Recreation Complex on Oct. 18.
Laval shortstop Brent Hatfield fields a ball cleanly.
Ascension Collegiate hitter Stewart Brazil grimaces as he swings the bat during the championship game on Oct. 19.
Laval High of Placentia pitcher Tristan McGrath delivers a pitch to a Clarenville High hitter on Oct. 18.