CARP – The heat was on for the 12th annual Gil Read Memorial Fastball Tournament, so it’s no surprise a beverage company was named champion Sunday afternoon (July 28).
That makes it the third time in a row for the Elkland Beverage Company out of Pennsylvania, a five-hour trip to Carp. It was absolutely a test of stamina as players battled each other and the sun as the current heatwave in West Carleton tested the mettle of athletes all weekend long.
Fitzroy Harbour’s Adam Brown was a key tournament organizer and told West Carleton Online it was a good weekend for fastball in Carp.
“The tournament went well,” Brown said this morning (July 29). “The one exception was a team dropping out on Thursday at noon which made for some scheduling changes. But generally, the weather was great, the level of play was very high, a decent number of fans came out to support and there were no problems with the event. I’d really like to thank the Huntley Community Association and the West Carleton Amateur Sports Club for their collaboration on the event, and of course all the volunteers who made the event possible.”
After a day of round-robin play, the Elkland Beverage Co. faced the Durham Diamondbacks in one semi-final and the Micksburg Twins played the Waterdown Hammer in the other.
Elkland defeated the Diamondbacks 13-7 with pitcher Gregg Garrity getting credit for the win. The other semi-final game was one for the ages. The Twins were down 4-2 in the bottom of the last inning of the game. Then Twins Scott Conroy and Matt Greer hit solo homeruns to tie the game and Jordan Graham followed that with a walk-off homerun for the win.
In the finals, Elkland defeated Micksburg 6-1 for the championship. Elkland was considered a favourite heading in to the tournament with three players on the squad who are also starters for the New Zealand national team – one of the powerhouses on the world fastball stage. Tournament MVP Riley Makea, 19, is considered one of the most promising young players in New Zealand, and has won a silver and bronze in Junior Men’s World Championships. He will represent New Zealand as the country chases its eighth world championship in August in Prague, Czech Republic.
Social media for the visiting teams was full of praise for the tournament and its organization. It’s no small feat as Brown manages the tournament, manages the home team West Carleton Electric and is also a bench player for the local team.
“It is exceedingly challenging to manage a tournament and also play and coach in the event,” Brown said. “I have done it before in Fitzroy years ago and it hasn’t got any easier. Over the past years, the Gil Read Memorial has really proven itself to be a top-notch event. Well run, at nice diamonds with good crowds and a good ‘vibe.’ That attracts teams and players to make the trip from out of town to play. We have had players over the years who have represented their countries internationally for Canada and USA. This year there were three players from Team New Zealand, with Elkland, and one with Waterdown from the Dominican Republic national team program.”
Host team the Electric started off strong opening the tournament with an 8-3 win over the Ottawa Spiders, but was in a tough pool having to face off against Elkland Saturday morning in a 10-2 loss that was close early in the game. The ‘Trics then loss Saturday night 6-5 to the Fenelon Falls The Lakes and were shut-out Sunday morning 8-0 to the Waterdown Hammer. The team did not make it to the playoff round.
“The ‘Trics were in a tough pool,” Brown said. “Elkland is always strong as they ‘load up’ for the Gil and have now won it three years in a row. Waterdown Hammer is also a very strong team making a run at the International Softball Congress World Tournament (ISC) in August. They flew in a pitcher, Bryan Newton, from Saskatchewan for the weekend. The Fenelon Falls The Lakes team is also playing in the ISC tournament and have a strong hitting crew.”
The ‘Trics also play in the Greater Ottawa Fastball League (GOFL) and are in the middle of a long season. The team is last in the league with a 2-11-1 record, just one game back of Kemptville and still time to make a playoff run.
“For the remainder of the GOFL season, the ‘Trics are looking to close out play in the schedule and make a run – as long as possible – in the playoffs,” Brown said. “It’s been a ‘rebuilding’ year but the guys are still enjoying things.”