Brookside Brookers won the overall title in the 32nd annual Labour Day tournament with a dramatic 10-8 win over Clarenville Ford in the final.
Clarenville Ford clinched the ‘B’ division title with a win over AFN Engineering.
The tournament hosted by the Clarenville men’s slo-pitch league saw 37 teams play strong defense, hard hits and powering home runs over the four days of competition.
At the end of the tournament the Brookers found themselves holding the overall title as well as the ‘A’ division title.
After going undefeated to take the ‘A’ division they faced ‘B’ division winners, Clarenville Ford for bragging rights as the overall tournament winners.
Brookers’ player Matt Blackmore says it was a great win.
“It’s hard to win this tournament. We had to beat three really good ball teams on Sunday just to get the double life, which we ended up needing,” says Blackmore.
That’s because Clarenville Ford took the first game of the final by the mercy rule. However, in the second game it was a different ball game.
“To beat the boys (Clarenville Ford) in the final was probably the hardest game of the weekend, especially since they were on a roll after they reeled off four or five wins earlier in the day. We were a bit cold, especially in that first game.”
The Brookers were down a couple of runs heading into the final innings. However, a three-run homer by Dale Ryan sealed the win for the team.
“To win it meant a lot to us younger guys,” says Blackmore. “Years ago when the older guys like my brother Curtis and Wallace Payne were playing we were just little boys watching and the Labour Day was always the big one. I know softball has evolved since then, but it’s still the one that’s really special to win.”
Blackmore, like many of the players has been playing in this tournament for years. Teams change and players move from one to another. However, this isn’t the first time he’s been on a winning team.
He won with Clarenville Inn back in 2004.
“That was special at the time because I won it with a bunch of buddies. But this one is even more special because this time it has community ties,” he says.
“Being a local team and winning this one is really something. We’re playing ball all summer but when you get to the one tournament that pretty much ends the summer, well that defines how the summer went. It’s the one to win.”
By the time Monday rolled around the Brookers had quite a following.
“When word got out that we won the ‘A’ division and had the double life in the final on Monday for the overall title there was a lot of people that came out to support us,” he says.
The win didn’t take long to hit the Internet. Facebook was a buzz with comments on the team’s success.
“The response on Facebook was overwhelming from people that don’t even watch ball. The community pride is definitely there, he says.”
The team plans to hang the tournament schedule in the community centre.
“There’s a lot of ball players that have come through George’s Brook and the Labour Day tournament is the one they always wanted to win,” he says. “Now we finally did it. It’s going to be nice to commemorate that at the community centre.”
Two other divisional winners were also crowned during the weekend. Jagar Bombs downed Tucker Properties for the ‘C’ division title while Custom Cabinets Chaos from Placentia defeated the Sons of Pitches from Random Island for the ‘D’ division title.
Keeping things running smoothly over the four days is a big task. And with a small committee made up of Scott Maidment, Earl Green and Neil Greening it meant having to run a tight ship. For the most part Maidment says games when ahead pretty much on schedule.
“The teams were really great. They showed up on time so the games were going bang, bang all weekend,” he says. “There were a couple of long days on Saturday and Sunday when we didn’t turn out the lights until nearly two in the morning. But for the most part it went well. And Mother Nature cooperated.”
The Labour Day tournament in Clarenville is one teams look forward to every year. For the past number of years the interest has steadily increased.
“Families are starting to come back which is nice to see. It’s also good for the local economy. Players drop a few dollars in town," said Blackmore. "I would think hotels, restaurants, gas bars and businesses in general see a difference.”