Trail Minor Baseball finished with a bang as the major playoff tournament at Andy Bilesky Park swung away on the weekend.
Eight teams from Nelson, Castlegar, Grand Forks, Beaver Valley and Trail descended on the park Saturday to play a round-robin format to decide opponents in Sunday’s final.
The Trail Eagles combined super pitching, clutch hitting and small-ball to go undefeated through the tournament, and clear a path to the final game where they met up with the Beaver Valley Cardinals.
Trail flew to a 5-1 win over the Cards earlier in the tournament.
“We had an awesome year this whole year but it was really nice to see them grind out four wins this weekend,” said Eagles coach D. J. Ashman. “No game was easy, but we got it done.”
The Cardinals played well all weekend also, beating out Castlegar in the semi-final and winning against a tough Grand Forks team to make it through.
The championship game remained close throughout, with Trail taking an early 6-3 lead.
But in the top of the fifth inning, after a Cardinals’ walk, a Jake Mozak single put runners on first and second base. Tyler Atkinson then stepped up and delivered a double into centre field to cut the lead to 6-4.
Eagles pitcher, 11-year-old Brendan Makay, came on in the fifth, and appeared to be in trouble with two Cards perched on second and third and the go ahead run at the plate. Yet, in spite of the Cardinal threat, Ashman was not concerned.
“For an 11-year-old he’s a gamer, you ask him to do anything he goes out and does it,” said Ashman.
Makay struck out the next two batters to strand the runners and get out of the inning with the lead intact.
That was all the Eagles needed. In the top of six, a single by Wyatt Soukeroff and a bunt single by John Ballarin set up a three-run bomb by catcher Derek Green.
“I knew he had a fastball and a change-up but I was looking for the fastball,” said Green, and after taking two balls, he deposited the next pitch, a fastball, over the fence in left-centre.
With the game 9-4, the Eagles needed three outs to seal the deal.
Makay was in the zone. He mixed a slurve, a cross between a slider and a curve ball, with a fastball, curve and change-up that baffled hitters.
“The first inning was kind of rough, I wasn’t doing that well but the second inning I felt a little bit better,” said Makay.
The understated Makay struck out the side to lead the Eagles to the championship.
“Trail played very well,” said Cardinals coach Steve Atkinson. “They had some great pitching and it was an awesome ballgame, it was a lot of fun.”
And despite the loss, Atkinson praised his own team for their great effort.
“At the beginning of the year, I never would have expected we would be in the finals against these guys so that was great, the guys played well.”