IT’S not very often your main pre-game speech from your manager-coach before your tournament final goes something like: “Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me”.
But that’s how it went in the Interport Masters dugout before they won yesterday’s A Division Final 5-1 against Misfits to notch a third successive Tamworth Baseball Association June Baseball Carnival and give 80-year-old Kevin Cantwell the present he had hoped for.
Cantwell, better known as “Craze”, chuckled about the birthday song.
Revving sides up for their best has been part and parcel of his sporting life for four or five decades.
A little bit of humour went a long way although there wasn’t much humour around earlier in the day when the Masters side was playing Tamworth in a final round game at 8am.
Whoever won went through to the final against a Misfits side which beat Country 18s in their final round match to make the final as well.
Tamworth led 3-nil after three innings.
“We gave them a bit of a scare,” Tamworth’s co-coach Chris Dyson said.
“We got three runs in the third but they came out and belted in four.
“We were going good early.
“Johnny (Warren) pitched well.”
Cantwell acknowledged Tamworth’s early attack causes a few worries.
“They did give us a scare, down 3-nil in that early game.
“I don’t think we’ve ever won an 8am game though.
“It might be the first 8am game we’ve ever won here.”
They started much better against Misfits in the 11am final though, with Armidale’s Mick Alldis pitching.
“He hasn’t pitched for three years,” Cantwell said.
“He threw a great game and seven scoreless innings.
“Then he was relieved by David ‘Goofy’ Sutherland and finished off in fine style.
“It’s Mick’s first time here for us although he did play in a few of the Masters tournaments in Alice Springs.”
From Geelong, 47-year-old Alldis is the Mary White College manager at Armidale’s University of New England.
He’s also playing for Warriors in the Tamworth first grade competition.
“It’s the first time I’ve pitched for six months,”Alldis said.
“It’s the first time I’ve played for Interport Masters here and maybe 10 years since I last played for them in the Alice.”
While his left-arm pitches were finding their mark, team mate Brad Dutton was in brilliant batting form, coming up with five hits from five at-bats.
Misfits manager-coach Rob Murnane was delighted to make the first division final after winning B Division last year.
Most of the Misfits come from teams in the western Sydney-Penrith area.
“All things considered, we did well to be here,” Murnane said.
“The Interport Masters were going to be hard to beat but we gave it a go.”
Mitchell Rowe started on the mound and was relieved by Dane Wigg while Matt Forbes came up with three hits from four at-bats.
Wenty won the B Division, JC’s Legends the C Division, Thundercocks D Division and Col’s Old Boys E Division.