Sports

Ferguson homers Hitmen, shuts out Truckers to claim fifth title

After three empty innings, it looked like this game was going to go down to the wire again but C.S. Hitmen first baseman Sherman Ferguson came out to the plate at the top of the fourth inning and made a powerful connection with the ball that went right centerfield and over the fence for a home run to help spark his team to a 7-0 championship victory against defending champions, the Commando Security Truckers.

That was game six of their best-of-seven championship series in the New Providence Softball Association (NPSA) men’s division. The game was played on Thursday night at the Banker’s Field at the Blue Hills Sporting Complex.

That was the Hitmen’s fifth title in six years.

Ferguson, who was in a batting slump, could not have asked for a better time to get out the slump.

“Finally,” Ferguson said. “It was about time.”

“I [was] in a slump. I [was] home thinking all day what I was doing wrong and I came out here and did it.

“We have the best pitcher and one of the best managers in The Bahamas here, a great sponsor and a good team behind us. We have plenty more championships to win.”

The slugger finished the night 1-for-2, scored one run and secured one run batted in (RBI) on his solo home run. After hitting that home run, he was intentionally walked twice.

The Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the night went to veteran Hitmen pitcher Alcott Forbes. He knew how it felt to go up 3-2 in a series and lose it, having done so against the Truckers last season.

“The Truckers is a very good ball club,” Forbes said.

“It was not easy to fight them off. Last year, we were up 3-1. This year people thought it was going to be déjà vu but the Hitmen came out on top.”

About his team’s dominance in this game, Forbes said: “If you pay close attention to what happened on Tuesday, they played some sloppy softball and the managers wasn’t happy. The players rallied behind the ace. When we got in the parking lot, they were very disappointed in my performance. I went home and came back out here tonight to destroy – that was what we did.”

The ace pitcher went 0-for-3 and scored one run. He scored in the fourth inning, getting on base after being patient, and Truckers pitcher Thomas Davis pitched him the fourth ball.

Richard Bain stepped up to the plate in that inning and got a double to left field. That double brought home left-fielder Martin Burrows and Forbes. On that same sequence of plays, Bain decided to put some pressure on the Truckers’ defense and darted for home plate. As a result, Truckers pitcher Dandre Rigby fumbled the ball as Bain came home to put his team up 4-0 with no outs.

Rigby was filling in for national team catcher Garfield Bethel. Bethel’s absence was felt on both defense and offense as he was having a good series. The Hitmen took full advantage of that and scored two more runs at the top of the fourth as they went into the bottom of the fourth inning with a 6-0 lead.

Forbes had a good night on the mound. He did not give up any runs and cleaned up the Truckers’ batting lineup with nine strikeouts. The veteran on the mound only gave up two hits all night.

Manager of the Hitmen, Darren Stevens, said that they got the timely hits as his team came through in the clutch.

“First of all, I want to thank God for giving us health and strength to be able to come out here and manifest what he wanted to be done. The victory feels good. It was a good hard fight. The Truckers played tremendous ball. Thomas was dominant but we finally came through in the clutch – that was the key. We finally got the timely hit, break the game open and I figured that discouraged him a bit and that was the key,” Stevens said.

He added that Bethel’s absence played an important role in how Thomas pitched the ball. The risky manager said he also shuffled the lineup a bit to try to see if he could get a spark.

Hitmen coach, Damian Holbert, said the team was hungrier this year.

“We were in the same situation last year and we couldn’t close,” said Holbert.

“We didn’t want that to happen again.

“The team was hungrier. We learnt a big lesson from last year. We were not going to let it happen again.”

At the top of the sixth inning, the Hitmen decided they did not want to take the game into the seventh inning. To do that, they needed to score one more run and play some hard-nosed defense.

Their leadoff batter shortstop Dino Sweeting provided that run when he got a single. Burrows hit a double and sent Sweeting home for the RBI. That potential game winning run put the Hitmen up 7-0.

After playing tight defense in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Hitmen were victorious and secured bragging rights for next season.

Hitmen sponsor, Clifford Sands, said this championship is another milestone for the brand and his team will be back next year to defend the title. The C.S. Enterprises specializes in trucking and heavy equipment.

“It feels great to have a championship brought again,” said Sands.

“The C.S. Enterprise brand along with the Hitmen has worked hard to ensure that we get to the top and remain on top.

“It feels great to have our talent recognized on the field and next year we will be back once again to showcase our talent while defending our title. This may be our fifth win, but this is another milestone successfully completed of a promising journey for our brand. With God’s help and our determination, we will continue to succeed while making history.”

In the bottom of the sixth inning, the rain began to fall. Forbes said that was when he knew the game was over and that the rain was a shower of blessings. He said he will be back next year as the Hitmen look to repeat as champions.

After winning the season series 3-0 against the Truckers, the Hitmen won game one of the championship series. The Truckers came back and tied the series at 1-1. The next two games were won by the Hitmen as they went up 3-1. Looking to salvage their season, the Truckers found a way to win game five as the series stood at 3-2 in favor of the Hitmen, setting up a pivotal game six.

On the women’s side, the Sunshine Auto Wildcats won that series 3-1 over the Inventive Intellect Warriors to complete their three-peat.

Next up on the baseball calendar will be the Bahamas Softball Federation’s (BSF) Inter Island All-Star Classic, which is set for the weekend of November 1-3 on the Banker’s Field at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex. Already, five men’s teams and seven women’s teams from around the country have confirmed participation.

The BSF is substituting the round-robin nationals for an all-star initiative this year geared around bringing the best players from the various islands of The Bahamas together. In the absence of the various men’s and women’s champions from the islands, all-star teams will be assembled. The capital island of New Providence is the only island that will be represented by club teams as the champions and runners-up in the men’s and women’s divisions from the NPSA will take part.

All proceeds from the gate will go toward hurricane relief for those inhabitants affected by the passing of Hurricane Dorian at the beginning of September.

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Simba French

Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas. Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism

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