Boland’s blast gives Toronto Gators ISC World Tournament championship

Written by Bob on August 20th, 2016
Ryan Boland, No. 10, and the rest of the Toronto Gators are ecstatic and waiting at home plate to greet Ryan's brother,  Shane Boland, who hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning for a 6-3 victory over the United Hill Chiefs, Saturday night, in the 2016 ISC World Tournament. Photo By BOB OTTO

Ryan Boland, No. 10, and the rest of the Toronto Gators are ecstatic and waiting at home plate to greet Ryan’s brother, Shane Boland, who hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning for a 6-3 victory over the United Hill Chiefs, Saturday night, in the 2016 ISC World Tournament. Photo By BOB OTTO

MOLINE, IL – In last year’s ISC World Tournament, the Toronto Gators came so close to winning the championship, so close to upending the Hill United Chiefs, three-time defending titlests.

But the Gators of Ontario, Canada fell short, suffering a gut-wrenching 6-4 loss after holding the lead going into the sixth inning.

However, Gators manager, Terry Baytor, knew some good could come from that loss in the way of learning a valuable lesson. So he put his pen to work.

“I wrote a team letter,” Baytor said. “I told them we had to lose before we could learn how to win. And this year we came ready to win.”

And indeed the Gators did, in a thrilling and most dramatic way.

In the bottom of the seventh with two runners aboard, Shane Boland ripped into an Adam Folkard pitch and sent it rocketing over the centerfield fence for a walk-off, three run home run to give the Gators a 6-3 victory and the coveted 70th Annual ISC World Tournament championship.

This becomes the third ISC title for the Gators since taking the championship in 1993 and 1995.

Wayne Laulu raises the ISC World Tournament championship trophy as his Gators' teammates cheer him on. Photo By BOB OTTO

Wayne Laulu raises the ISC World Tournament championship trophy as his Gators’ teammates cheer him on. Photo By BOB OTTO

For Boland, nothing in fastpitch is sweeter than slamming a game winning, championship homer.

“This is precious,” said Boland, “especially winning it with my brother (Gators catcher Ryan Boland). I’m on top of the world right now.”

    CHIEFS BATTLE BACK

But going into the seventh the game was tied 3-3, and the Chiefs appeared to have the momentum after mounting a fence-busting comeback.

After trailing 3-0, Nick Shailes slammed a home run in the sixth, and in the top of the seventh, with one out, the Chiefs hammered the Gators’ Sean Cleary for two more.

First Mark Johnson and then James Todhunter took Cleary pitches over the fence to pull the Chiefs even.

With Adam Folkard in the circle – arguablly the best pitcher in the world – the Chiefs appeared ready to seize their fourth consecutive championship.

But Boland and a couple of his teammates had other ideas.

And they went to work to make it happen in the Gators half of the seventh. First, Wayne Laulu led off with a single, and one out later Thomas Enoka worked Folkard for a walk. That brought Boland to the plate.

And he got a pitch he could handle.

“I got an outside drop ball and was able to get a good piece of the bat on it,” Bolland said. “I’ve faced Adam (Folkard) the last five years. He is extremely good. I’m fortunate that I was able to get the job done.”

Pablo Migliavacca started for the Chiefs and went two innings, scattering three hits before giving way to Ryan French, who allowed two runs before handing the ball to Folkard.

But Folkard struggled with these Gators, who seemed locked in on his pitches. In three innings he gave up four runs on six hits with a walk and four strikeouts.

TWO CHAMPIONSHIPS TO CHERISH

For Boland, this is his second ISC World Tournament championship. He was on the 2012 Jarvis Travelers club that won the title. This time around is every bit as sweet as the first. And every bit as hard earned.

“We’ve fought back all season,” he said. “We didn’t tighten up when they tied it. This team has a great team attitude.”

In the tournament, the Gators defeated the Chiefs twice. On Friday in the winner’s bracket final, the Gators fought back to take a nine-inning 7-6 win on Wayne Laulu’s walkoff home run.

    BATTLE TOUGH GATORS

That dramatic win gave the Gators confidence. Though giving up the lead in the championship game with but two outs left was disappointing, they knew they could battle back and win it.

“In the bottom of the seventh we had no doubt we could do this,” said Baytor. “There is a special bond on this team this year. Someone different has stepped up when we needed it. Shane Boland did it (this time). Beating them twice is a special accomplishment.”

    CLEARY LEADS THE WAY

The Gators rolled through the world tournament, finishing 6-0, with Cleary the workhorse of the staff, getting five of the wins. He pitched 35 2/3 innings, allowed 19 hits, five walks, struck out 71, and had a 0.98 ERA.

Sean Cleary allowed five hits, three earned runs, walked two and struck out 13 in leading the Toronto Gators to a 6-3 victory over the United Hill Chiefs in the 2016 ISC World Tournament championship at Green Valley Sports Complex in Moline, IL, Aug. 201 2016. Photo by BOB OTTO

Sean Cleary allowed five hits, three earned runs, walked two and struck out 13 in leading the Toronto Gators to a 6-3 victory over the United Hill Chiefs in the 2016 ISC World Tournament championship at Green Valley Sports Complex in Moline, IL, Aug. 201 2016. Photo by BOB OTTO

During the post-game awards ceremony the right-hander received the Most Outstanding Pitcher award, and was selected first-team, All-World.

Folkard, an ISC record setter with five Most Outstanding Pitcher awards, also made the first-team, and finished with a 4-1 record, 37 1/3 innings, allowing 23 hits, walking 13 and striking out 68, with a 2.81 ERA.

Click on Final Standings and All-World Players of the 70th ISC World Tournament.

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