By Darryl G. Smart
The Hill United Chiefs have climbed back on top of the world of softball. But this one meant something different.
On Saturday, the Chiefs beat their arch-rival New York Gremlins 7-4 to capture its fifth International Softball Conference world title in eight years. Not only was it the first championship since 2017, it was the first without sponsor Kenny Hill, who passed away earlier this year.
Jason Hill was the hero in the final, going 3-for-4 with three RBI, and broke a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the sixth inning to hand the Gremlins their only loss of the tournament.
“Well I can tell you this was a special one,” Hill said. “With Kenny’s passing, this meant a lot to his family, to our team and to our fans. We had some extra motivation to get this done for Kenny, because without him, none of us are here in this position. You could see the emotion on everyone’s face after the final out and as Pete (his brother) said, Kenny was watching down on us, and you can guarantee he is up there celebrating with us.”
The Chiefs had the Gremlins on their heels much of the night, scoring two in the second and one more in the third. But the Gremlins tied things up in the bottom half of that inning and added one more to take the lead in the fourth inning.
After tying the game up on a Gremlins error in the sixth, the Chiefs offence kicked into gear scoring three in the top of the seventh to seal the victory.
Defensively, the Chiefs were rock solid, especially in the outfield taking away a handful of extra-base hits and home runs from the Gremlins. The biggest was Wayne Laulu’s long fly ball that looked like trouble in the bottom of the seventh inning with two on base and the potential to tie the game up. But the Chiefs outfield came through and Nico Carril made a spectacular catch at the fence for the final out.
Offensively, the Chiefs scattered 12 hits in the game. Brad Ezekiel, Hill, Carril and Tony Gonzalez each had multiple hits in the win.
Devon McCullough, who earned the Leroy Zimmerman Memorial Award Most Outstanding Pitcher Award, started on the mound for the Chiefs. In three and a third innings, he allowed one hit and no runs while striking out six. Patrick Burns threw one and one-third innings in relief and got the win, while Pablo Migliavacca threw two and one third innings, giving up two runs on three hits, while striking out three.
Andrew Kirkpatrick started for the Gremlins and lasted three innings, giving up three runs on six hits. Josh Pettett took the loss in four innings of work, striking out five, but giving up four runs on six hits.
The win not only meant a lot to the Chiefs because of Hill’s passing, but because of the way they had to prepare for the world tournament, not having been able to play thanks to COVID-19.
“We faced a juggernaut in the New York Gremlins, and it was a true battle. These guys were going for three-in-a-row. We’ve been there and that’s certainly not an easy feat,” Hill said. “We basically came together three weeks ago in Minnesota to try and prepare for the worlds. The rust was evident, but our goal was to get better each day. Our management lined up daily practices, exhibition games, inter-squad, you name it. They did everything they could to help us get ready to battle, and that exactly what we did. It’s a remarkable feeling, sitting here today as world champ. A lot of people had us wrote off, especially after a year layoff and without a couple of our horses in Adam Folkard and Nick Shailes. But, again we found a way, came together as one, and now are back on top of the world.”
The Chiefs capped off a near-perfect six days for the Chiefs, who went 6-1. Earlier Saturday, they beat the Kitchener Hallman Twins 7-3 to earn another shot at the Gremlins, who defeated them in walk-off fashion Wednesday 6-5.
Friday, the Chiefs defeated Simcoe’s Rob Schweyer and the Kegel Black Knights 6-2. They also beat LC Ostrander Norsemen 17-0, AWP Lumberjacks 11-0, and rebounded from the Gremlins’ loss with a 4-2 victory over J&B.
First Team All World
Shane Boland, Hill United Chiefs
Tony Gonzalez, Hill United Chiefs
Erick Ochoa NY, Gremlins
Thomas Enoka, Hallman Twins
Bruno Motroni, Hill United Chiefs
Brad Ezekiel, Hill United Chiefs
Mike Lewis, Kegel Black Knights
Zenon Winters, NY Gremlins
Nick Mullins, NY Gremlins
Devon McCullough, Hill United Chiefs
Jorge Segura, Circle Tap Dukes
Martin Gonzalez, AWP Lumberjacks
Second Team All World
Jerome Raemaki, NY Gremlins
Steve Mullaley, Hill United Chiefs
Cam Schiller, Hallman Twins
Carlos Menchaca, OMMA Tigres
Blair Ezekiel, Circle Tap Dukes
Nico Carril, Hill United Chiefs
Matt Ratliff, Circle Tap Dukes
Mathieu Roy, NY Gremlins
Wayne Laulu, NY Gremlins
Pablo Migliavacca, Hill United Chiefs
Huemul Mata, Hallman Twins
Josh Pettett NY Gremlins
Cleo Goyette Memorial Most Valuable Player
Bruno Motroni Hill United Chiefs
Leroy Zimmerman Memorial Award Most Outstanding Pitcher
Devon McCullough Hill United Chiefs
Kevin Herlihy Memorial Newcomer of the Year
Lane Kurtz RM Kurtz Enterprise,
Shane Boland Hill United Chiefs 10
Tyler Pauli Bear Creek Express .545