An Orillia team earned an improbable victory in one of Canada’s largest slo-pitch tournaments last weekend.
The Black Barn Golf Cars and Washago Timber Mart Timber Kings came into the Northern Shootout with a less-than-spectacular regular-season record of 3-8-0 in the Orillia Slo-Pitch League and did not have high expectations entering the popular tournament that attracts teams from all over Ontario.
“We actually had a team party set up for Saturday night,” explained Timberkings captain and shortstop Dustin Murphy, who admits players were pretty confident they would be eliminated in round-robin play and be able to turn their attention to other things Saturday night.
But that party did not happen.
“Guys that don’t usually do too much were able to get some hits, and our big hitters were able to deliver," explained Murphy.
The Timberkings, who usually just play for fun and the love of the game, became excited about the prospect of winning once they advanced to the championship final.
“We were excited for what winning could do to acknowledge or sponsors,” he said. “We wanted them to feel good about helping us out.”
The Durham Royals were 11-0 in playoff round games in tournaments this season but they were no match for the Timberkings in the Northern Shootout finale as the local team triumphed 13-3.
The Timberkings are a family-oriented team. Murphy’s father, John, and his two brothers — Colin and Cameron — play on the team.
“It’s the most fun to share this with Dad,” Murphy said. “It’s nice being able to play with him because he’s 63 now and these chances are running out now.”
Murphy says the tournament title win created a family memory that will be cherished for years to come.
“My brother’s kids were around the whole time,” he said. “We had our whole family and our friends’ whole families together. In between games we were having barbecues and relaxing all together. It was like a big family vibe the whole time," said Murphy.
Tournament organizer Mike Borrelli admits he didn’t see the Timberkings as contenders coming into the weekend.
“We had some surprises this year,” he said. “Parity was second to none; it was very good.”
Aftershock, a Toronto-based team, upset the heavily favoured Toronto Orioles who had won the previous three Northern Shootout tournaments, 11-0 in the Men’s A final.
The Toronto Ladybirds won the Ladies’ A final.
Borrelli says the Northern Shootout was an ‘unbelievable’ success and one of the better tournaments he has run over the past 15 years.
“We got a lot of compliments,” he said. “It was one of the best-officiated tournaments we’ve had, and Orillia is always a great host city for tournaments like this.”