Cavanagh tossed a tidy five-hit shutout, striking out 11 batters along the way as Fitzroy Harbour (Ottawa) downed the local hopefuls 5-0 in the final. The North Stars picked up three single-run victories in their first four games, falling 5-3 to Fitzroy in the first meeting of the teams in the double-knockout event.
Sudbury opened tournament play Saturday morning, besting Toanche (near Midland) 5-4 as the ageless wonder, Jordy "Swede" Dahlvick, retired nine straight batters to preserve a one-run lead over the final three innings.
Sudbury opened the scoring in the third with a pair of runs, with Chad St. Cyr driving in the ice-breaker with a single, before Toanche evened the score in the bottom of the inning.
The North Stars threatened to blow the game wide open in the fourth, but were derailed by a pair of runners thrown out at home plate before a seeing-eye single from Mark Cain provided the locals with a 3-2 lead.
Two more runs in the fifth, highlighted by a St. Cyr home run blast to straight-away centerfield, upped the advantage to 5-2, but Toanche answered yet again. Andre and Justin Ladouceur went deep in back-to-back plate appearances, as Sudbury starter Brad Matheson gave way to Dahlvick in the bottom of the fifth inning.
The impressive performance in relief earned the local pitcher, who came out of retirement to assist the North Stars in this tournament, a starting assignment in game two. Dahlvick would go the distance, helping lead Sudbury to a 4-3 extra-inning win over Bracebridge.
The North Stars once again opened the scoring as Todd Parsons doubled and scored in the second, with Bracebridge knotting the game at one the very next inning. Sudbury recorded its second lead of the game, with Curtis Hambley reaching on an error and coming around on Parsons' second double of the contest to give the homeside a 2-1 lead.
Drama in the top of the seventh as Bracebridge tied the game courtesy of a round-tripper from Brad Quinton, sending the battle to extra innings. After Bracebridge scored once in the top of the eighth with the international tie-breaker rule in effect, Sudbury answered with a pair in the bottom of the inning, earning a spot in the undefeated game Saturday evening.
But just as would be the case on Sunday, the North Stars would come up a bit short against the eventual gold-medal winners.
"We're a little disappointed with the outcome," noted North Stars third baseman Junior Ilnitski after the Sunday afternoon finale. "Not getting the key hits at the right time together, we came up a little short."
A veteran of the local fastball scene, Ilnitski is one of the key organizers with the North Stars crew, drawing together a core of players from the league team, along with other familiar faces from across the north, to put together a competitive squad for tournament play.
"We play against each other all over the place, so we scout the guys," Ilnitski said.
Despite the letdown of the shutout loss in the final, Ilnitski was more than proud of the efforts of the Sudbury hopefuls in the seven-team event.
"Mark Cain had an exceptional weekend, he really stepped it up. And hats off to our two young pitchers (Matheson and Carter Joncas) and our veteran, Jordy Dahlvick. We're going to throw him into the Medical Hall of Fame," Ilnitski added with a laugh. "He's an amazing pitcher and very hard to hit. That guy is something else."
While Fitzroy Harbour walked away with the Intermediate B banner, the Pickering Panthers did the same in the C division, besting Toanche in the final.
The Intermediate provincial championship, hosted locally and spearheaded by Roger Legendre, represented the first time in several years that an OASA all-Ontario tournament has taken place in the Nickel City.
There was a time, through the heyday of fastball play in the Sudbury region in the 1960s and 1970s, when competitions such as this were common-place. For the likes of Legendre, Ilnitski and others, there remains the hope that those days will return.