Na­tional ti­tle ex­tra spe­cial for Colch­ester County play­ers

Truro Daily News - - SPORTS - By Joey Smith

Af­ter win­ning the Cana­dian se­nior men’s fast­pitch cham­pi­onship on Sun­day, Pa­trick Ste­wart re­ceived a spe­cial text mes­sage. ‘Wel­come to the club,’ it read. It was from Brook­field res­i­dent Danny Dean, a mem­ber of the 1980 Cana­dian se­nior men’s fast­pitch cham­pion Brook­field Elks.

“It was one of the best texts I ever re­ceived,” Ste­wart said Tues­day. “Read­ing that felt pretty good.”

Ste­wart, a 32-year-old from Brook­field, was a mem­ber of the East Hants Mastodons, who won na­tional gold in Saska­toon. East Hants de­feated the five-time de­fend­ing cham­pion Gal­way Hit­men from New­found­land 6-5 in the fi­nal.

“Un­be­liev­able,” he said of win­ning the Cana­dian ti­tle. “Just to be part of a cham­pi­onship team and to be rep­re­sent­ing my home­town, it’s some­thing else, re­ally.”

Ste­wart (first base­man) and fel­low Brook­field res­i­dent Coby Crow­ell (out­fielder), along with Stewiacke’s Jay Duffy (sec­ond base­man) and Mike Wood (as­sis­tant coach) were Colch­ester County’s con­nec­tion to the Mastodons.

All four men learned the game of soft­ball in Brook­field and grew up play­ing in the South Colch­ester com­mu­nity.

Mak­ing their goldmedal vic­tory even sweeter was the fact that they won in Saska­toon, where the 1980 Elks won Nova Sco­tia’s first Cana­dian crown. Ste­wart’s un­cle, Rob­bie Cooke, was a mem­ber of the 1980 Elks, who were en­shrined in the Nova Sco­tia Sport Hall of Fame in 1988.

The 1998 Hal­i­fax Jaguars are the only other Nova Sco­tia team to win na­tion­als in the tour­na­ment’s 51-year his­tory.

The Mastodons fin­ished pre­lim­i­nary play with a 5-1 record, sec­ond to the Hit­men, who went un­de­feated in six games.

In their first play­off game on Satur­day, the Mastodons de­feated the host Saska­toon An­gels 7-3 be­fore a 5-2 vic­tory over the Hit­men to ad­vance to Sun­day’s cham­pi­onship game.

In the fi­nal, the Mastodons snapped a 4-4 tie with two runs in the bot­tom of the fourth. Ste­wart sin­gled to lead off the in­ning and later scored on Jonah Wright’s dou­ble. Duffy added the even­tual game-win­ning RBI with a sac­ri­fice fly to left field to score Aaron Har­vey.

With two outs in the top of the sev­enth and the Mastodons on the verge of clinch­ing the ti­tle, Blair Ezekiel of the Hit­men hit a ground ball to short­stop Nick Shailes, who scooped it up and fired to Ste­wart at first base to end the game and give Nova Sco­tia its first gold medal in al­most 20 years.

“I can’t de­scribe it, it was just amaz­ing,” Ste­wart said, when asked how he felt when the fi­nal out was recorded. “Re­ally, it was all a blur. As soon as the ball hit my glove I was speech­less, re­ally. It was awe­some.”

Duffy, Jeff Ellsworth and Shailes also home­red in the game. Justin Schofield, the play­off round MVP, pitched a com­plete-game vic­tory. He al­lowed nine hits and struck out five.

Shailes, Don­nelly Archibald and Joel Isenor were named tour­na­ment all-stars. Isenor played his ju­nior hockey with the Truro Bearcats and is the team’s cur­rent as­sis­tant coach.

Shailes hit a jaw-drop­ping .750 in the play­off round with five homers and nine RBI, while Duffy hit .444 in the play­offs with two homers.

Ja­son San­ford, a for­mer Brook­field Elk, was the Mastodons start­ing catcher, while Chris Hopewell, who played for the Elks for 10 years, coached the Mastodons. East Hants will host the 2018 na­tional cham­pi­onship in St. Croix, Hants County.

Ste­wart

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