Down one run in the bottom of the seventh inning, two outs and two strikes with two runners in scoring position and the 100 Mile House men’s fastball league championship on the line.
A local French immersion teacher got the pitch he was hoping for and said ‘bonne nuit.’
Marc Dufour played the hero in walk-off fashion for Jake’s Pub Old Buds in its 9-8 win on July 25, punching a hit into right field off Canim Lake pitcher Kevin Neufeld and bringing home the tying and winning runs and capping off a stunning six-run comeback in their final at bats.
“It was a battle,” says Dufour, the team’s catcher. “That [last pitch] was high. But I was expecting a high ball, and I was hoping for a high ball. It came. That’s it.”
“It was very difficult because [Neufeld] pitched so well,” he adds.
Jake’s Pub came back to win Game 1, 4-3, on July 21 in an extra inning, and on July 23 in Game 2, it was Canim Lake winning a close ball game 5-4.
It was a great finals.
Up 8-3 with only three outs to go in Game 3, Canim Lake huddled together before taking the field, trying to relax and steady themselves and close out the ball game.
“We had it there,” says Canim Lake veteran Jerome “Stumpy” Boyce, who couldn’t help but laugh a bit after the surprising loss. “Brutal. I think we choked up and we were all tense.”
However, the seasoned fastball player has been in this position many times before.
“It could have went either way, I guess. You never know which way the ball bounces.”
About half of the Canim Lake squad is off to the 2014 Canadian Native Fastball Championships as the Shuswap Defenders in Prince Albert, Sask. from July 31 to Aug 3.
Pat McCarron and Greg Parent shared mound duties for Jake’s Pub.
In Dufour’s five years with the team, this is their first championship, he explains. The team made the finals last season but came up short.
“The end of our lineup came through [in Game 3],” says a joyful Dufour after the game.
“It’s a good bunch of guys. A happy season for us. A good ending.”