“McCoy has won it every year for the last three years in a row for sure and we knew they were a team that was not going to beat themselves,” said Rob Virginillo, head coach of the Vauxhall Vikings baseball team. He added the championship final saw plenty of quality baseball being played.
Both teams exchanged runs in the first inning as the players on the mound were finding the strike zone early.
“It was a good pitcher’s duel at the start, both pitchers were throwing well and getting ahead of hitters,” said Virginillo.
The Vikings found themselves down 6-2 going into the fifth inning when they answered the bell. The Vikings strung some hits together, chasing McCoy’s starter from the contest and getting into their bullpen, eventually taking a 6-5 win.
“Like us, they only have so many arms and they had already played an extra game in the tournament than we did so I don’t know what they had left,” said Virginillo.
That was when potential disaster stuck in the last inning of the game as McCoy plated two runs in the seventh inning on bases on balls.
“The guys showed what they were made of. We hadn’t played in any close games up to that point and everyone contributed. The Grade 9s chipped in all the way to the Grade 12s. We got some bunts down and some hit and runs when we were supposed to,” said Virginillo. The Vikings manufactured two runs in their end of the seventh inning to earn the championship victory. “It was a nice thing to see in a challenging game. Going back and forth, we could have easily given up being down 6-2 or when we gave up those two runs in the seventh. Guys did not give up, which was great to see.”
The Vikings had little trouble making it to the championship final with a 20-0 drubbing of Vulcan and then upending Brooks 11-1.
“I always have this tournament to see what the teams from the West (division) are like. Fort Macleod was there, Vulcan was there, High River was there…teams we don’t get to see,” said Virginillo.
“Milk River and us pretty much 10-runned everyone else except for McCoy.”
Virginillo has been like a mad scientist tinkering with his lineup during the Vikings’ successful tournament run, and looking at the bigger picture of a league championship banner in the end.
“To this point I’m trying to play everyone as much as possible just to see for next week and the week after who is going to throw strikes and who is better off in certain positions,” said Virginillo. “I’ve been really impressed with the Grade 9s that we have and first-year Grade 10s where I can put them in anywhere and they’ll do well.”
Pushing the championship final to Monday has made a whirlwind of baseball for the Vikings. Tuesday saw the Vikings return to league play and beat Foremost 19-11. The Vikings also played arch nemesis Milk River on Wednesday with results unavailable at press time.
“We’ll be tired after playing two games in a row and they are well rested having not played since Saturday, but oh well. It is could be a game that decides first place (in the league division),” said Virginillo.