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Special to the Record
It was a painful end, in a couple of ways, for the Happy’s Islanders quest for victory at the 2012 Roy Hobbs Baseball World Series in Fort Myers, Florida. The Islanders went to the Sunshine State with a goal to play well enough to slip into the A or AA rankings at the end of regular play, and then to win that division.
The week started well, with victories on Sunday and Monday. The Tuesday rainout at JetBlue Stadium was a real disappointment for many, as the opportunity to play in that wonderful park may never be there again. To make up that lost day, a doubleheader on Wednesday resulted in a morning loss and an afternoon win (it also meant no beach time that day!).
Thursday had the Valley boys taking on Tidewater Drillers (from Virginia), a tougher test meant to see if the Islanders were good or had just had an easy schedule. This game turned into one of the best games in memory as the two teams battled back and forth for nine innings in Lee County Stadium (the Twins' stadium).
Facing a pitcher with serious heat, the boys fell behind at first, and it looked like a mercy was in the works. But they stuck to their game, hit the ball hard (the Drillers said that no team had ever hit their ace so hard), and played stellar defence! The final score of 14-10 left the Islanders with a 3-2 record at the end of regular play.
That put Happy's in the AA division – smack in the middle of the entire 55+ Legends section of 43 teams at #22 – 21 teams ranked above, 21 teams ranked below. (All teams in the AA division finished with 3-2 records).
Friday morning finally meant a playoff game, and a game at JetBlue Complex – not the stadium, but field #6 just beside it. Again the bats were hot and the lads beat up the StoneAge team 11-3 in nine innings – a solid effort.
But by the end of this game, injuries were really taking their toll. Several guys were unable to run or throw or play at all. Problems included shoulders, elbows, hands, hammies, quads, backs, knees, etc. And with a two-hour delay until the second playoff game, all the bodies cooled off and tightened up!
The Kennebec Cubs, with a morning bye, were happily watching and waiting for the afternoon game. After a few close innings, the Cubs began to pull away, and drilled the stake through the heart of the Islanders – a 15-5 mercy in seven innings.
Rather ironic that the Islanders would lose to a Cubs team, in the shadow of the JetBlue Stadium that eluded us.
A nice run by a hard-hitting team. A great time was had by all. Thanks to Tim McDonald for doing most of the organizing and paperwork, and to the family members that travelled with us and made the trip more enjoyable, and to all the players for a wonderful week of memories!
– Happy's Islanders