It would seem Greg Hammell wasn’t just resting his arm when he was on the bench with the Napanee juniors at the Canadian championship last summer.
Evidently he was making some mental notes.
He certainly seemed to know where to find the holes in all the Napanee bats Sunday afternoon, when he tossed a two-hit shutout to lead his new team, the New Hamburg Cubs, to a 9-0 victory over Shoeless Joe’s in the final game of the Ontario Amateur Softball Association junior elimination tournament in Owen Sound.
New Hamburg was undefeated in four games at the three-day, 10-team event, with three of those wins coming against Napanee teams. The Cubs defeated the Napanee Express in its opening game, then beat Shoeless Joe’s twice, in the undefeated game Saturday night and again Sunday afternoon.
After giving up nine runs to the Express in the opener, New Hamburg allowed just three runs in its final three games.
New Hamburg is one of four teams to emerge from the tournament with a berth in the Canadian championship in Napanee in August. The others are the two Napanee teams and Tavistock, a team that first eliminated the Express Sunday morning and then was itself eliminated by Shoeless Joe’s one game later.
The well-travelled Hammell pitched for Owen Sound last year but was picked up by Napanee for its trip to the Canadian championship in Alberta. This year he was one of a number of players recruited to play in New Hamburg, and he rewarded his latest team with a pair of sparkling performances against Napanee.
In the final, he allowed just two singles, struck out eight and walked one. In 12 innings over the two games, Napanee had just four hits, didn’t score an earned run, struck out 16 times and walked just once.
With both teams already assured a berth in the national championship, Tyler Pauli’s two-run home run was the big hit as New Hamburg scored three times in the first inning. Though that was all the support Hammell ultimately needed, the Cubs didn’t relent, scoring at least one run in every inning of the game that was ended by the mercy rule after five.
Pauli added a two-run single in the second inning and finished the game with three hits and four runs batted in.
Cole Bolton and Taylor Brown had the Napanee hits.
Rookie lefthander Kyle Ainslie took the pitching loss. He was touched for five hits and five runs in two innings.
Earlier Sunday, Kyle Copeland had four hits and Shoeless Joe’s withstood a seventh-inning rally to defeat Tavistock 8-5.
A two-run home run by Devon Kropf in the bottom of the third inning staked Tavistock to a 2-0 lead but Napanee scored two runs in each inning after that. Three errors led to two Napanee runs that tied the game in the fourth inning, and a two-out double by Cody Brooks and another error produced the go-ahead runs in the fifth.
A two-run home run in the top of the seventh by Keegan Scott sent Napanee in to the bottom of the inning with an 8-2 lead and Shoeless Joe’s needed all of it, as a walk, three singles and an error led to three Tavistock runs. With runners on first and third and just one out, Ainslie came into the game and struck out the next two batters to end the game.
Bolton got the pitching win, allowing eight hits, four earned runs and striking out five.