CORNER BROOK The defending champions picked up right where they left off.
Though some of the names have changed for Transmission Experts — in fact, five of the players on last year's Corner Brook Bud Light Men's Softball League championship roster were wearing the colours of their opponent on Monday night — they were still as solid as ever in a 3-1 triumph over Whelan's Gate at Ambrose O'Reilly Memorial Field.
Dave Kearsey was strong on the mound for the experts, allowing just one run on four hits over seven innings of play, with 11 strikeouts and just one walk charged against him. Coady Kelly, one of the players that made the jump from the experts to the Gate in the off-season, went the distance on the hill as well, giving up three runs on eight hits, while striking out four and walking no one.
"It was a really well-pitched game," said experts' Cory Hurley. "There were just a couple of shaky plays on defence that led to a couple of the runs."
Hurley was 1-for-3 with a triple and a run scored in the winning cause, while first-year player Adam Murphy was also 1-for-3 with an RBI double. The experts' eight hits came from the bats of eight different players.
For the losing side, Jordan Kennedy was 1-for-3 with a single and a run scored on a sacrifice fly from Garrett Thistle.
Both teams combined for just two hits thorugh four innings, before the bats came alive — particularly for the experts — in the final few innings. The score was knotted 0-0 until the bottom of the fifth.
"It's early season ball," Hurley said. "They say the pitchers have got the advantage."
The Gate scored first in the fifth, before the experts came back with two runs in the sixth inning, before picking up an insurance run in the seventh.
Among the other players that left the experts to play on the Gate were last season's playoff MVP Jeff Gosse, as well as Gavin Butt, Anthony Locke and Gary Kean.
"It's a little more balanced out this year," Hurley said. "But we've still have nine or 10 guys back who were a big part of the team last year."