Lightning strikes at tourney

Though they were understaffed pitching wise, Leaside Lightning braved the intense heat of Aug. 15 weekend to win the Greater Toronto–Leaside Carmen Bush Junior Championship.

The first game of the three-day double knockout tournament held at Talbot Park saw the Lightning battle Etobicoke.

With star pitcher Jack Malone throwing a complete game two-hitter, the Lightning pulled out a squeaker, 2-1.

“That was real tight. That could’ve gone either way,” said head coach Kent Duncan. “We had two or three of our better pitchers that are going to American schools out.

“They had to go back to school in the last little while, so we didn’t have them available to us.”

That was something he suspected was occurring with other teams, including Whitby, who they met in their second game, winning 9-8.

The two teams met again in the final where Leaside’s pitching concerns became apparent when they went to their bullpen for Chris Gott, who hadn’t pitched in a month, Duncan said.

“We were a little leery of starting him, but at the same time we knew we kind of had a second chance if we were to lose,” he said.

But Gott went six innings, allowing three runs and seven hits, before being relieved by Kyle Loppky, who gave up one run.

The score: 8-4 for Leaside.

It was Gott’s last game at junior as he will be graduating to senior next season.

“I was starting to feel kind of bad that he wasn’t getting much pitching, in fact he wasn’t going to be there at the final game,” Duncan said.

“He had a family function, and we talked after the game in the morning, and I said, ‘I was planning on pitching you in the third game’, and he said maybe he could have the whole family to the game’.

“He ended up bringing his grandparents and his parents to the game and they saw him pitch one hell of a game in his last kick at the can.”

Contributing offensively were second baseman Brett Adamson, designated hitter Jeremy Hopkins and Jon Isaac, who crossed the plate twice.

But not everything was sweet with the victory.

Duncan said one of his team captains, Hopkins, wound up heading to the hospital post championship bout.

“He had some heat-related problems and they kept him in overnight to make sure there was no kidney damage,” Duncan said. “He caught the first game for me, he caught the Saturday game, he caught the early Sunday game, the first against Whitby and he just DHed the final.

“The doc said if he hadn’t have come he would’ve been on dialysis,” he added. “I shudder to think what would’ve happened on the field.”

A former Northern Collegiate phys-ed teacher, Duncan said it was his first year coaching the team. With the success though, he’s hoping to return for 2010.

“I enjoyed it,” he said. “It kind of kept me out of trouble for the season.”

About this article:

By: Brian Baker
Posted: Aug 27 2009 2:20 pm
Filed in: Sports
Edition: Toronto