SASKATOON — Devon McCullough threw a gem of a game for the Angels, leading the hometown team to a 7-0 shutout win over the B.C. Sooke Loggers in the finals of the 2021 Rawlings Grand Slam Softball Championship on Sunday at the Bob Van Impe Stadium inside the Gordie Howe Sports Complex.
The Angels did not disappoint the good sizable crowd that came out to cheer them as they went undefeated in the four-day tournament. They swept all four games to rule the Gene McWillie Pool and defeated the Loggers, 8-1, Saturday night to clinch the first championship berth where they waited until Sunday afternoon for their opponent in the one-game finals.
Fatigue could be also be a factor for the Loggers, meanwhile, as they had to play consecutive games on the final day of the tournament. They downed the Bear Creek Express, 12-5, to arrange a rematch with the Angels. The Express were fresh from an 8-6 triumph over the Grand Prairie Pirates early Sunday morning.
McCullough pitched a complete game where he struck out 14 and only allowed four hits. His brilliant performance on the mound was enough to earn him the player of the game honours given by the organizers. Blake Hunter was awarded the same honours for the Loggers after going 2-for-3 at the plate with a double despite being left on base twice.
The Angels, after scoring twice in the bottom of the first courtesy of a McCullough two-run homer, touched home plate five times in the sixth — a scoring run that took the fight out of the visiting Loggers.
Cole Reid led off the sixth with a solo shot, sending Scott Lieph’s first pitch past the right field fence. Derek Arsenie found a gap between first base and right field then Brian Evanochko came into pinch run but was out on a fielder’s choice.
Taylor Barber was safe at first in that Loggers defensive play and reached third on an error when Kyle Cowick mishandled Darren McCullough’s hopper to third, putting runners at the corner for the Angels.
Aaron Emery relieved Lieph when Taylor Hill was about to bat and after the Loggers pitcher’s warm-up, the Angels’ third baseman had a two-RBI double. Bradley Ezekiel had a two-run homer to end the game in favour of the hometown bets.
The Angels’ Zach Pierce was awarded the Top Pitcher of the tournament after earning three wins in four appearances on the mound and allowed only one run on a 3.86 ERA while his teammate Justin Laskowski earned the Top Batter honours after batting .600 with seven singles, three doubles, a triple, a homer, seven RBIs and scoring four times.
The Loggers earned some consolation after catcher Bryan Abrey was named the MVP of the tournament behind .438 in batting, 11 RBIs, and nine runs.
In the U23 finals, the NL Chayee Bourras used a five-run sixth inning to complete a 9-4 victory over the Ontario Tavistock Merchants. Marcus Pittman pitched four innings in start for the NL crew giving up two runs on two hits with five strikeouts.