PETIT DE GRAT: Only four years after entering the league, the Isle Madame Mariners are the Richmond Amateur Baseball Association (RABA) champions.
The Mariners defeated defending champs, the Little Anse Hawks 12-10 in a hard fought final Sunday afternoon that featured several lead changes in front of a large crowd at the Petit de Grat ballfield.
“Yesterday’s crowd in Petit de Grat was one of the biggest, if not the biggest, I’ve seen at the field for a league game,” Mariners coach Shawn Samson told The Reporter on August 27. “My players said they were sick to their stomach and had to just focus on the playing field, because looking out at the crowd was just overwhelming.”
With the Hawks leading 4-1, Mariner Callum Boudreau hit a three-run homerun to tie the game, and during that same inning, the Mariners took a 6-4 lead, only give it back in the next inning when the Hawks then took a 10-6 lead.
In the bottom of that inning, Callum Boudreau hit a two-run home run to get Isle Madame within two runs. The Mariners then clawed their way back to tie the game, and in the bottom of the 6th inning, Jimmy Bungay hit a clutch two-RBI single to give Isle Madame a 12-10 lead.
Zack Bond, who came in to pitch in the 5th inning, shut down Little Anse in the 7th inning for the title.
The top hitter for Little Anse was catcher Brandon Boudreau who finished the game with a triple, a double and two RBI. Clem Fougere took the loss on the mound for the Hawks.
Reflecting on his 30 years of involvement with the RABA, an emotional Samson recalled the great championship teams from the league’s past when he spoke with his team following their win.
“When addressing my players after yesterday’s win I reminded them of all those teams but I also told them, that their win yesterday was one of the biggest accomplishments in RABA history,” Samson said. “It’s not to take anything away from those other teams, as I was part of some of those teams, but as a young teenager on those veteran teams, you played a limited role and were just excited to be part of it.
“Yesterday’s championship Mariner team is unlike those winning teams, instead of having a few young teenagers, the nucleus of the team was teenagers.”
When the Mariners first entered the league, Samson predicted his young team would compete for the title within five years.
“When you really look at it and put it into perspective, most of these kids are still in high school or just graduated from high school this past year and are winning championships in a men’s baseball league,” the coach said. “It’s a huge accomplishment!”
Despite losing their first game of the play-offs to the Petit de Grat Red Caps last Friday night, the Mariners punched their ticket to the final with two wins on Saturday, first besting the Hawks and then dispatching the Inverness A’s.
“We put ourselves in a tough spot after our loss to the Red Caps Friday night, as one more loss and we were eliminated from the tournament,” Samson noted.
Jimmy Bungay pitched a two-hit, 11 strike-out shut-out against Little Anse on Saturday afternoon, then the Mariners’ bats came alive against Inverness that evening to slug their way to Sunday afternoon’s championship game.
One of the leading bats for the Mariners was second baseman Joel Fougere who collected eight hits last weekend.
“This guy was the talk of the tournament all weekend,” Samson said. “They were talking about his power. He was hitting gappers all weekend.”
On Sunday morning, the five-time champion Little Anse Hawks outslugged the Petit de Grat Red Caps to get into to that afternoon’s title game.
Both Petit de Grat and the Inverness A’s finished 1-2 in the round robin portion of the tournament and were eliminated from Sunday’s championship final.
To further add to his pride, Samson noted that instead of holding their own celebration, the Mariners attended the final of the PeeWee baseball tournament in Port Hawkesbury to cheer on the Mariners.
“The players and parents were so excited and appreciative of this gesture, and again, I was so very proud of my RABA players for doing this for our young Mariner players.
“I’ve won many league titles, provincial and intermediate titles and have coached all levels of baseball for the past 10 years or so, but yesterday’s title win was the proudest moment of my baseball career.”
Samson added thanks on behalf of the Mariners to all the parents, family members, coaches, and fans for their support over the years.