Hill United Chiefs dream of three-peat comes true

Written by Bob on August 16th, 2015
Adam Folkard pitched Six Nations Hill United Chiefs to the 2015 ISC World Tournament championship, Aug. 15, and was selected the Leroy Zimmerman Most Outstanding Pitcher.

Adam Folkard pitched Six Nations Hill United Chiefs to the 2015 ISC World Tournament championship, Aug. 15, and was selected the Leroy Zimmerman Most Outstanding Pitcher.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The Six Nations Hill United Chiefs of Ontario, Canada were pursuing a dream and chasing a couple of legends.

And on a late Saturday night at the Belleville Softball Complex in South Bend, the dream came true and the legends were caught.

Led by the superb pitching of Adam Folkard and a clutch home run from Jason Hill, the Chiefs rallied to defeat the Toronto, Ontario, Gators, 6-4, to clinch the 69th International Softball Congress World Tournament championship.

    FLYING HIGH WITH THE NITEHAWKS

The milestone win fulfills the Chiefs’ dream of winning three consecutive ISC World Tournament championships, matching the legendary Long Beach, Calif. Nitehawks who accomplished the feat from 1958-1960, and the Jarvis Travelers of Jarvis, Ontario, Canada from 2010-2012.

But the Chiefs’ dream was on the brink of being shattered by a resilient Gators (8-2) squad that was playing its third ball game of the day in sweltering heat, and 10th of the tournament after a second-round loss to Circle Tap of Wisconsin.

    EZEKIEL HOMERS, RONA AND LAULU COUNTER

Centerfielder Brad Ezekiel got the Chiefs off to a great start by blasting Kyle Linton’s second pitch of the ball game over the left-centerfield fence. But the early lead was short-lived.

In their half of the first, the Gators capitalized an error and a walk to put Ben Enoka and Nathan Nukunuku aboard. However, Folkard toughened, striking out Thomas Enoka and getting Shane Boland to ground out.

But Brad Rona refused to let Folkard wriggle free. He pounced on a Folkard drop ball, sending it bounding over the tall pitcher’s head into centerfield, scoring Enoka and Nukunuku.

Then the tournament’s RBI leader stepped into the right-side batters box. Wayne Laulu blasted an outside Folkard rise ball over the right-field fence for his fifth home run and 15th and 16th RBI of the tournament.

And suddenly the Gators had surged ahead, 4-1.

    FOLKARD DOMINATES THE GATORS

But Folkard showed his grit. Over the rest of the game, starting with a strikeout to finally stop the first inning damage, the Australian struck out 13, gave up one hit and induced four ground balls and an infield popup.

After falling behind, the Chiefs capitalized on an outfield error in the second inning that allowed Mark Johnson to reach third base, and later score on Joel Southam’s sacrifice fly to leftfield.

    LINTON, CLEARY TOUGH UNTIL HILL BLAST

Then over the next three innings, Linton, who pitched the first four innings, and reliever Sean Cleary, held the Chiefs scoreless. But in the sixth, with a fierce swing of his bat from the left-side batters box, Jason Hill put an end to Linton and Cleary’s dominating performance.

Jeff Ellsworth started the inning by working Cleary for a walk. One out later, Steve Mullaley lined a double into centerfield with Ellsworth sliding safely into third.

That brought Hill to the plate.

And the designated player batting in the five spot turned on Cleary’s inside offering and sent the ball screaming over the right-field fence. The ball traveled on a straight line no more than 15-feet high and took just a few seconds to land in the bleachers beyond the fence.

Hill’s blast – one of the hardest hit homers in the tournament – sent Ellsworth, Mullaley and Hill cavorting in joy around the bags, much to the delight of their teammates and fans.

    FOLKARD SLAMS DOOR

With the lead, Folkard needed just three outs to finish off the Gators, whose last appearance in an ISC World Tournament championship game was in 1995 when they won the title.

Folkard fired 80 mph rise balls past Laulu and Jeremy O’Reilly for strikeouts to start the inning. Compain fought off a Folkard drop ball for a safety into leftfield to give the Gators’ life. But Folkard whipped a drop ball at Frank Pointon that he grounded out to end the game.

    RECORD-SETTING CHIEFS AND FOLKARD

And then the Chiefs started celebrating their third consecutive ISC title that started with the first in 2013 at the Quad Cities of Iowa and Illinois, and the second last year in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.

During that span, Hill United has won 18 consecutive world tournament games. And in 2012, the Chiefs finished second at 5-1, to post a four-year record of 23-1.

During this remarkable run, Folkard has won 18 consecutive games, moving him to second all-time behind Gerald Muizelaar with 23. Folkard’s six wins gives him 35 in his ISC World Tournament career, No. 10 in most wins, all-time.

Folkard finished the 2015 world tournament with a 0.21 ERA. He pitched 34 innings, allowed one earned run on 11 hits, with six walks and 60 strikeouts.

    AWARD WINNING PERFORMANCES

Folkard was selected the tournament’s Leroy Zimmerman Most Outstanding Pitcher, his fifth such honor (2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015) that ties him No. 1 all-time with Zimmerman (1950, 1952, 1955, 1959, 1960).

The Most Valuable Player award went to Hill United’s Nick Shailes. The Chiefs’ infielder batted .333 (6-for-18), including three home runs, seven runs scored, along with 10 RBI.

Kevin Herlihy Newcomer of The Year was awarded to Kallan Compain. The Gators’ catcher batted .435 (10-for-23), six runs, 13 RBI, including two doubles and three home runs.

(I apologize to the Jarvis Travelers for omitting mention that Jarvis had won three-consecutive titles along with Long Beach when I originally posted the story. A thank you to Ed Kirner (ISC Hall of Fame, 1989) for bringing this to my attention.)

TOP FOUR TEAMS

1. Hill Untied Cheifs 6-0
2. Toronto Gators 8-2 (Saturday, the Gators defeated the Gremlins, 4-3, and A1 Bombers, 5-4.)
3. A1 Bombers 4-2
4. New York Gremlins 4-2

6 Comments so far ↓

  1. Doug Roberts says:

    Great coverage Bob much enjoyed reading Thank you very much.

  2. Bob says:

    Thank you Doug, much appreciated.

  3. Dave Tetreault says:

    There would not have been a second game if Hill United would have lost. The final game is winner take all.

  4. Bob says:

    Thanks for advising me Dave. I didn’t realize that it was a one-game championship and will correct the story.

  5. Dave Tetreault says:

    Bob, you are welcome. The detail in the story is excellent.

  6. Bob says:

    Thank You, I enjoyed covering the game.

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