To many on hand for the opening weekend of Northern Elite League baseball action earlier this month at the Terry Fox Sports Complex, the scores of the games were, relatively speaking, inconsequential.
The mere fact that a competitive loop had re-emerged for competitive youth baseball players was enough to qualify the weekend as a success, beyond the smiles being shared across the diamonds.
Looking to provide a reasonable level of play for rep teams in Sudbury, Valley East, Sault Ste Marie and North Bay, the NEL hit its mark. The Sudbury Peewee Shamrocks kicked things off in fine form, sweeping all three of their encounters.
The Shamrocks outgunned the Valley East Renegades 22-11 in Game 1 as Nick Durkac belted a three-run inside-the-park home run, and 12 of their 13 players in the lineup collected at least one hit.
Game 2 was much tighter as Cameron Docking smashed a pair of doubles and Ben Phillips provided three solid innings on the mound in a 10-9 win over North Bay.
Finally, two scoreless innings from pitcher Joe Guzzo combined with key hits from both Justin Vaillancourt and Braedan Gobbo was enough to propel Sudbury past Sault Ste. Marie 11-3 in the weekend finale.
The Sudbury Mosquito Shamrocks fared almost equally as well, capturing three of four matchups over the weekend. Overcoming an 11-0 deficit after two innings of play, coach Trevor Gaudreau's young squad rallied to post an 18-13 victory.
Braedan Pakkala drove in four runs with a pair of hits, including a two-run dinger, while Keenan Castle went 3-for-3 with a pair of RBIs. Pitching was at the forefront in Game 2 for the Shamrocks as the troika of Carter Benson, Ben Fowke and Justin Lancup limited the Sault Ste. Marie Minor Mosquitoes to just one run, upending the visitors 13-1.
The Soo Major Mosquitoes extracted a measure of revenge for their younger counterparts in Game 3, defeating the Shamrocks 19-14, rebounding nicely after Sudbury opened the game with a four-run outburst in the top of the first inning.
Pitcher Carson Harvey provided a great close to the weekend, going four innings and allowing just two runs while striking out eight as the Shamrocks bombarded the Valley East Renegades 16-5.
Fowke needed only a triple to complete the "cycle", going 3-for-3 with a two-run home run in the third inning. The 2014 Sudbury Mosquito Shamrocks have assembled a lineup that includes Eric Dissanayake, Carson Harvey, Ryan Lacasse, Carter Benson, Brian Fink, Braedan Pakkala, Ryan Rubic, Keenan Castle, Ben Fowke, Gavin Salo, Caston Antonioni, Cole McPhee, Cole Goudreau and Justin Lancup.
Team coaching duties are shared between Trevor Goudreau, Chris McPhee, Kevin Fowke and Jason Castle, as the team prepares for tournament play later this month in Niagara Falls.