By CLAUDE SCILLEY
NAPANEE, Aug. 10—Evidently, Mother Nature appreciates a bit of irony as much as the next person.
On a day when it was so arid that the Softball Canada junior men’s fastball championship was already about 40 minutes behind schedule—as grounds crew took extra turns dampening the bone-dry diamonds—she decided to do her bit to keep the dust down.
Alas, she overdid it.
After a two-hour delay, organizers officially called a halt to proceedings, declaring at 8 p.m. Monday night that even if rain—that had been torrential at times—stopped, there wouldn’t be sufficient time to prepare the puddle-dotted diamonds at the Napanee Fairgrounds for a resumption in play.
As a result, Tuesday’s schedule will be pushed back, to allow the two games that were in progress when the rain began Monday to be completed, followed by the scheduled evening game that was totally washed out.
Specifically, Game 7, in which Newfoundland-Labrador was leading the Saskatoon Diamondbacks 9-7—with just two outs to go—will conclude at 9:45. At 10 o’clock, Game 8, with Quebec leading the Napanee Abundant Insulation Express 7-0 in the top of the third inning, will resume.
At 10 o’clock on the other diamond, Napanee Shoeless Joe’s will play the Ontario-champion New Hamburg Cubs in the game originally scheduled for Monday night.
The schedule will then continue with Tuesday’s regularly scheduled games.
One interesting outcome of the weather-related woes is the two Napanee teams, who were originally scheduled to meet at 11 a.m. Tuesday, will essentially play back-to-back games, as they will now meet in a contest likely to start around 12:30.
Earlier Monday, Shoeless Joe’s, the defending national silver medalist, invoked the mercy rule in an 8-0 win over the Saskatoon Bullets but Abundant Insulation was beaten 13-2 by the Diamondbacks, who broke open a 4-2 ball game with five runs in the top of the fourth.
In that game, the Saskatchewan champions had an abundance of hits: 16 of them in a game that lasted just five innings. In the fateful fourth, Saskatchewan, leading by just two runs after Napanee had scored twice in the bottom of the third, had a man on second with two out when they pounced on Express pitcher Luke Severson. Curtis Peicowye hit the first of his two two-run home runs; there were then two singles before catcher Matthew Pilon belted a two-run double.
Grant Fry, Layne O’Halloran and Ty McNish all had singles in the two-run Napanee third.
Shoeless Joe’s began the tournament with a mercy-rule victory over the No.2 Saskatchewan team here. Taylor Brown, in the first inning, Cody Brooks, in the third, and Barry Hogeboom, in the fifth, each hit a two-run home run for the Express.
Eric Morgan collected the pitching win, allowing just three singles and striking out seven in five innings.
Six games into the tournament, there are no teams at 2-0. Quebec, Napanee Shoeless Joe’s, the Saskatoon Diamondbacks and New Hamburg are all 1-0; the defending champions from Irma, Alta., and the No. 2 Ontario team, the Tavistock Athletics, are both 1-1.