O’LEARY – The O’Leary Summerside Chrysler Dodge Eagles won their third Eastern Canadian men’s intermediate C fastpitch championship in as many years on Sunday.
Mitchell Hardy threw a 17-strikeout no-hitter in leading the O'Leary Eagles to a 4-0 victory over the Charlottetown Cardinals in the deciding game of the Eastern Canadian men's intermediate C fastpitch championship in O'Leary on Sunday.
Eric McCarthy/Journal Pioneer
The Eagles scored three first-inning runs en route to a 4-0 win over the Charlottetown Cardinals on O’Leary’s Ellis Field.
The game was a continuation of the Eastern Canadian championship tournament from two weeks ago in O’Leary. Both the Eagles and Cardinals had finished preliminary-round play with 4-0 (won-lost) records before rain washed out the semifinal games.
According to tournament rules, preliminary-round standings would be the first factor for deciding final standings in such a scenario. As both teams had the same record, the next factor went into play – run differential (maximum of seven per game).
The Eagles won first-place overall by a single run, and could have tucked the championship medals in their kit bags and that would be the end of it.
They decided they’d rather settle it on the field, thus Sunday’s winner-take-all game, played in front of a large, pro-O’Leary crowd.
The game was played in warm but windy conditions. Ironically, the rain that washed out the playoff games two weeks ago returned Sunday, less than 10 minutes after the Eagles’ Mitch Hardy completed his no-hitter for the win.
“When you hit spots, it makes it easier,” assessed Hardy, who registered 17 strikeouts and had a perfect game spoiled by a seventh-inning walk. “When you’re hitting the inside corner, it’s the toughest pitch to hit, and it worked.”
Hardy said he threw just about everything in his arsenal. With his riseball and dropball proving effective, Hardy said he didn’t have to throw his change-up often.
“You have to throw it the odd time to keep them off balance,” he acknowledged.
Eagles catcher Troy Ellsworth, who excelled behind the plate, was named tournament most valuable player (MVP).
“Mitchell makes me look good behind the plate,” said Ellsworth. “If he’s on, I’m on with him, right? We go together.”
Ellsworth continued by saying he enjoys catching for Hardy.
“I‘ve been catching for him for a lot of years now, since he pretty well started throwing the ball, back in the old league we had up west,” said Ellsworth. “We played against each other for a couple of years. . . Probably seven or eight years I’ve been catching him, so I know what he’s all about.
“If he hits his spot, it makes an easy game for me.”
Cardinals coach, Allan Petrie said both teams played a good game, but the Cardinals were victims of some bad bounces early.
“In the first inning there, they had three balls that went off of gloves,” assessed Petrie. “That was the difference, kind of, right there.
“Once they got the lead, they’re a tough team. And with Mitch (Hardy) pitching, they’re a very good team.”
Eagles player-coach Jeff Ellsworth said the Hardy- Troy Ellsworth combo was the difference.
“Against Mitchell Hardy, when you get down a few runs it’s a tough uphill battle on the way back,” said the player-coach. “Troy does an amazing job back there.
“It’s not the easiest thing to do to catch Mitchell Hardy. The balls that are hitting Troy’s hand, they’re not coming in easy.
“You’ve got to tip your hat to Troy, calling the right pitches at the right time, as well.”
The Eagles got five hits off of the Cardinals’ Mike Bishop, who pitched all six innings. Bishop had five strikeouts and gave up two walks.
The Eagles got a triple and double from Jamie Betts, and singles from Jeff Ellsworth, Troy Ellsworth and Jason Smallman.