Clutch hitting and some slick middle infield glove work led the NDSS Golden Hawks baseball team to an emphatic 10-0 victory over the La Salle Black Knights on Monday afternoon at Kingston’s Megaffin Park.
The victory gave the Hawks a 3-2 record on the season and they’ll now await the completion of Tuesday’s games to see who they’ll take on in the KASSAA quarter-finals on Thursday.
Justin Candlish got the start in the regular season finale for NDSS. He settled in nicely after allowing a lead off double to open the game, not allowing another hit over his next four innings. Behind him Napanee’s defense turned double plays to close out the second and third innings.
At the plate the Hawks scratched out a pair of runs in the home half of the first without needing a hit. Their first hit didn’t come until number eight hitter Zach Harry blooped a double down the right field line, scoring a pair of runs in the process.
Matt Ruttan added an RBI single in the third, while Dean Taylor and Mack Grosvenor each drove in a run in the fourth.
Grosvenor took over on the mound in the fifth and continued to hold the Knights offense in check with two scoreless innings.
Napanee closed out the game in the sixth when Austin Kearly drove in a run and two more runs scored on an error to give the Hawks the 10 runs needed to invoke the mercy rule.
“Fun guys to coach,” said Hawks head coach Daryl Sheffield. “A lot of guys who have never played hard ball. It’s been fun, we’re just glad we’re playing.”
Sheffield says prior to this year only three players on the roster had ever played hard ball. Heavy rain throughout much of May threatened to wash out the entire KASSAA baseball season, but the weather finally relented enough to get five regular season games in the books. Once they were finally able to play ball, Napanee showed they could compete with anyone this year. They opened the season with a 2-0 win over Bayridge followed by a 9-2 loss to the undefeated Holy Cross Crusaders. One bad inning did them in against the Crusaders however, when they allowed six runs.
“That was an experienced team, a lot of Grade 12s,” said Sheffield of the Crusaders, who will represent the area at OFSAA. “That game, experience was the difference.”
The Hawks followed that game with a 5-4 walk-off win over Regi, only to suffer a walk-off defeat in their next game against Sydenham.
As pleased as he was with the regular season’s outcome, Sheffield says he was more impressed with how determined the players were, practicing since March even when the season seemed in doubt.
“When the weather was bad, there were probably more of us with the league thinking we should fold,” said Sheffield. “It’s so much organizing just to be disappointed again. So glad the weather has held off long enough that we can get the games in. For some of them, it’s the last thing before they graduate, so it’s a good experience for them.”
Monday’s win places Napanee third in the standings, though there are still two games to be played this afternoon. The outcome of those games will determine who the Hawks face in a win-or-go-home quarter-finals on Thursday. A win there would advance them to Tuesday’s semifinals with the finals scheduled for June 12 at Woodbine in Kingston.