The Galway Hitmen’s chase for Newfoundland’s sixth straight Canadian men’s fastpitch title fell one run short Sunday as they lost 6-5 to the East Hants Mastodons of Nova Scotia in the national championship final in Saskatoon.
It was the defending champion Hitmen’s second playoff loss to the Mastodons, who had prevailed 5-2 in a Saturday matchup.
That meant Galway had to play in Sunday’s semifinal against the Bulyea, Sask., Rustlers, and made short work of the Prairie team in that one, winning 22-1 in a game that ended after just three innings. But in the game that immediately followed against the Mastodons, the Hitmen couldn’t come up with same sort of dominance, although they did take a 4-2 lead with a couple runs in the top of the third inning. However, East Hants responded by scoring twice in the bottom half of the same frame and then regained the lead with two runs in the fourth.
In the top of the seventh, Brad Ezekiel got the Newfoundland side to within single run with a one-out solo homer, but winning pitcher Justin Schofield struck out Stephen Mullalley and induced a groundout from Blair Ezekiel to end the game.
Losing pitcher Jason Hill drove in two runs for Galway. Hill allowed seven hits over six innings of work, but three of them were home runs.
Brad Ezekiel’s homer was his sixth in three playoff games and ninth of the tournament. In all, Ezekiel drove in 18 runs in 10 games, including all seven the Hitmen scored in a 7-5 win over Sooke, B.C., to open the playoff round.
Galway had gone 6-0 in the round-robin portion of the tourney — one of the results being a 13-7 victory over the Mastodons — and outscored the opposition 76-17 in preliminary play. However, as historically has been the case at Canadian championships, the playoffs — for the most part — delivered much tougher games.