The Atlas Dewatering North Stars have returned.
Sure, the boxscore for the championship clinching resembled one that might appear in a local tyke tournament, with runners crossing the plate at a very steady pace.
But a 19-18 victory over the Bisons, one that required two extra innings of play to lift the Stars to a three games to one triumph in the final of the Rick McDonald Fastball League, did propel the veteran crew to the top of the loop that it dominated, not all that long ago.
After capturing the league crown for ten straight years, a run that was capped off in 2016, the North Stars have been kept out of the limelight since. In getting back to where they felt they belonged, the team displayed a knack for prevailing in a variety of ways.
"This was so different than our first round series, when we played Garson (Hounds) and won 3-1 and 7-5," said Jesse St Cyr, who would eventually drive in the game-winning run when Trevor Cain came sliding across the plate.
"That one was a tight, defensive affair. But we knew that the Bisons were very young and could score some runs, so we had to get the bats going. Did we want a track meet in that last game? No."
"But I knew, with our veteran crew, we could give ourselves a chance to win."
The home team for this contest, Atlas trailed 16-14 heading to the bottom of the seventh. A double by Trevor Cain and a base on balls to St Cyr allowed Mark Cain to deadlock the game at 16-16, driving in two with another double.
"There were a couple of chances in the seventh inning for us to win the game, but the Bisons played some good defense," said St Cyr.
The teams traded runs in the eighth, with the Bisons adding another in the top of nine, prior to the heroics from St Cyr. "I haven't had too many game-winning hits - I can't the remember the last one that I had - so this was a great feeling, especially winning with it the championship."
While the core of the North Stars remained intact, there is no doubt that the addition of pitchers Peter MacKenzie (Bear Island) and K.C. Abitong (Sagamok), as well as Pickerel River teammates Johnathan Contin and Riley Kagagins certainly helped the league champs.
The consolation final also wrapped up on Thursday as pitcher Garry Lamothe enjoyed his best effort of the shortened season, recording six strikeouts and benefitting from solid defense is a 5-3 win, giving the Drillers their series win over the Garson Hounds, also in four games.
Jeremy Welsh came through with the key hit at the plate, belting a two-run triple for the Drillers.