Joel Southam belted a two-run home run for Hill United Chiefs, but it wasn’t enough as the Toronto Gators defeated the Chiefs, 7-6, in nine innings in the winner’s bracket final to advance to the ISC World Tournament championship game, Saturday. Photo By BOB OTTO
MOLINE, IL – Adam Folkard and Sean Cleary are two of the top pitchers in the world of fastpitch softball. Both have overpowering speed and sharp breaking spin that makes their pitches rise or drop with astounding movement.
Most of the time the two right-handers win the battle against the best fastball hitters in the world. Friday night wasn’t one of those time.
Both pitchers were ousted from the game – Folkard in the sixth pitching for Hill United Chiefs, and the Toronto Gators pulled Cleary after four innings.
Hill United Chiefs Adam Folkard fires a pitch during the Chiefs, 7-6, loss to the Toronto Gators in the winner’s bracket final, Friday night, at Green Valley Sports Complex. The loss drops the three-time ISC World Tournament champion into the loser’s bracket, while the Gators advance to the championship game. Photo By BOB OTTO
Those moves tell how this game went. It was a hitter’s night.
And this time around it went the Gators way as the two titans battled through nine innings before Toronto pulled out a 7-6 win when one of the greatest hitters in the world – New Zealand star Wayne Laulu – ended the game with a walkoff home run off Pablo Migliavacca.
Migliavaca took over for Folkard in the seventh after he had given up six runs (five earned) on nine hits.
Hill United Chiefs catcher Jason Sanford blocks the plate and stops Toronto Gator’s Brandon Horn from scoring during the Gators nine inning, 7-6 victory in the winner’s bracket final of the 2016 ISC World Tournament, Friday. Photo By BOB OTTO
The two powerhouses, feasted on 21 hits, 10 by the Chiefs and 11 from the Gators, and they hit five home runs, three by the Chiefs and a pair by the Gators. (See ISC Pointstreak for stats.)
In the back and forth scoring affair, the Chiefs plated a pair of runs in the first and second innings, only to see the Gators chip away with single runs in the first four innings to tie the game.
Bradley Ezekiel hit a home run in the fifth to reinstate the Chief’s lead at 5-4 off Justin Schofield who relieved Cleary to start the inning. But back fought the Gators with a pair of runs in the sixth to surge ahead, 6-5.
But in the seventh, Ezekiel’s second home run evened the count, sending the game into extra innings, where Laulu’s blast ended it.
The win was huge, moving Toronto into Saturday’s championship game at 6 p.m. as the only unbeaten team (5-0) left in the tournament, while Hill United must battle back through the loser’s bracket for another crack at the championship.
The Chiefs return to the ball diamond at 1 p.m. to take on the winner between the New York Gremlins and BC A’s to be played at 11.
** For standings, scores and more, visit: ISC Pointstreak Scoreboard