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Brandon Sun (Newspaper) - July 6, 2002, Brandon, Manitoba Bl SATURDAY, JULY 6, 2002 Sports By Ted Wyman Brandon Sun The Brandon Cloverleafs continue to steamroll through the Manitoba Senior Baseball League season and they have no intention of slowing down any time soon. The Cloverleafs improved their record to 15-4 with a 12-6 win over the Oak River Dodgers at Westbran Stadium last night. The Brandon squad has already clinched a playoff spot and is firmly entrenched in first place —nine points ahead of second-place Baldur — with five games remaining in the regular season. But this team was great early last season but lost the league championship after taking a 3-0 lead in games over the Brandon Ora Dental Marlins. So, needless to say, the Cloverleafs are taking nothing for granted. “Last year we would win eight in a row and then lose four in a row, but this year we have been very consistent,” Cloverleafs player/coach Ryan Potter said recently. “The guys learned a lot from last year. It wasn’t much fun to lose the final like that but if you have to go through something like that, at least it was a great learning experience.” Potter said the Cloverleafs first priority is to clinch first place and home-field advantage all the way through the playoffs. “That is big for us,” he said. “We haven’t lost a game at home yet and that’s something we are pretty proud of. And we want to keep it going.” Bryan Swaenepoel pitched eight strong innings to pick up the win for Brandon, while four players had three hits apiece. GOT A SPORTS TIP? Call in local results toll-free to 1-877-786-5786 before ll p.m. You can fax us at 727-0385. E-mail: sports(a brandonsun.comCloverleafs starting to pull away COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN Oak River catcher Darcy Patterson makes the tag on Jamie Waddell-Hodgson at home plate after the Brandon Cloverleafs slugger tried to steal home. Swaenepoel allowed just one earned run on eight hits and two walks and struck out six. Dean McBride singled three times and drove in three runs for the Cloverleafs, while Jamie Waddell-Hodgson had a double, two singles and an RBI, Terry Isaak had a double, two singles and an RBI and Jason Rae had three singles and scored three runs. George McNeill started for Oak River and was tagged for four runs on eight hits and three walks over 3 1/3 innings. However, the loss went to Gord Paddock, who allowed three runs on five hits in 2 2/3 innings. Allan Martin had a double cmd a single and drove in a run for the Dodgers, who fell to 5-12, while Dusty Lee singled twice and drove in a run. In the other game last night, the Killamey Lakers beat the Marlins 4-3. and allowing three runs on seven hits and one walk and stoking out four. Craig Moffatt took the loss for the Marlins. He allowed four runs on eight hits and a walk and struck out four over eight innings. Mike Smith hit a double and a single and drove in a run for the Lakers, while another Killamey mn came rn on Mark Magwood’s sacrifice fly. Roger Gregor and Nate Andrews both hit solo homers for the Marlins and Kevin Clark added a pair of singles. Lakers 4 Marlins 3 At Killamey, Marlow Knight hit a solo home mn as the Lakers upset the Marlins. Killamey improved to 5-11-1 and kept their slim playoff hopes alive, while climbing out of the league basement. The Marlins fell to 9-7-1, which leaves them tied for fourth place with the Butle Blue Jays. Travis Hilhorst picked up the victory for the Lakers, going the full nine innings ASSOCIATED PRESS Flags flew at half mast yesterday at Fenway Park in Boston after Red Sox great Ted Williams passed away at age 83. Williams was one of baseball’s legends and was the last player to hit .400 in a season. For complete coverage, please see Page BS, Westwood boots Blue pastTi-Cats COUN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN Mike Schumacher of the 1-94 Predators gets tripped by an unidentified member of the Cypress Timberwolves. Cross-border hockey American teams invade Brandon AAA tournament By Rob Henderson Brandon Sun For years the lure of the U.S. dollar has drawn much of Canada’s top hockey talent south. But while the exchange rate leads to hand-wringing by Canadian NHL executives, it has been a boon for organizers of youth tournaments who have benefited from an influx of American teams. Roughly 40 per cent of the entries in the 102-team Sports Excellence AAA Hockey Challenge, taking place this month in Brandon, hail from the United States. "I think there’s a couple of reasons why I see more American teams here,” tournament organizer Darryl Wolski said. “Number one — the Canadian dollar. People are starting to figure out their buck goes that much farther in Canada. “Number two — Americans are under the impression that this is where the best hockey is and this is where they’re going to come to find the best calibre of hockey. “Whether or not that’s true, I’m not sure.” The tournament has drawn squads from as far away as California, but the majority of the American teams hail from the northern states. For those teams, Canadian tournaments are a convenient and economical option. “We have a hard time finding compe tition in Minnesota,” said Bernie McBain, who coaches the Minneapolis-based Minnesota ’87s. “Once you play everybody at home you’ve got to go out. And Minnesota’s kind of a long drive to everywhere and this is one of the few places we can drive and get decent competition.” McBain’s squad averages five to seven tournaments per summer. The Brandon tournament is one of two Canadian stops — the other being Toronto — for the team this year. Wolski said the presence of teams from the United States adds some spice for local players, who get exposed to different teams and players than they would normally see during the winter. “For example, if you’re playing on the Westman Selects, you don’t want to play a team from Winnipeg. You don’t want to play a team from Dauphin or whatever. You want to play a team from Minnesota. You want to play a team from Wisconsin. You want to play teams from New York, New Jersey and California.” The relationship between the AAA Challenge and American teams was put to the test last year. An assistant coach from a Minnesota team was involved with an altercation with a referee. A warrant was issued for the coach’s arrest, but he had returned to the United States before charges could be laid. The team was barred from competing in the AAA Challenge and from many other summer tournaments in Western Canada. The incident drew media attention form across the continent and Wolski said it was attention that the tournament didn’t really need. “I don’t believe that all advertising is good advertising,” he said. “Some people believe that maybe some people have a perception about Canada being goon hockey. (They believe that) our referees just let things go.” McBain said the incident had a ripple effect in Minnesota, but it was not enough to dissuade his team from com- “In fact our parents initially didn’t want to come because of the incident last year, but I had a talk with Darryl and ... we had other families that had kids here who said it was a good tournament.” “We know it wasn’t a one-sided deal because of that coaching staff on that team. We’ve played them numerous times and we know the coaching staff. They’ve always been kind of on the wild side. “(Our parents) were worried that maybe (penalties) would be let go because we were from Minnesota and that hasn’t been the case. Actually the officiating, we felt, has been really good — as good if not better than at home.” WINNIPEG — Hamilton head coach Ron Lancaster saw something last night that he’d never witnessed in his long football career. And it wasn’t a pretty sight. Tiger-Cats kicker Paul Osbaldiston had back-to-back punts blocked as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (2-0-0) took advantage of six Hamilton (1-1-0) turnovers for a 24-15 CFL victory. “I’ve been in the league 40 years and I’ve never seen two in a row blocked,” said Lancaster, a former CFL quarterback. “It better not happen again.” Winnipeg scored IO points off the block punts and three more off of a fumble on a punt return. The other turnovers were two interceptions of Hamilton quarterback Danny McManus and a turnover on downs. Winnipeg kicker Troy Westwood, playing in his 190th consecutive CFL fnmil'ir omrnn    line    r>n    fVlP iw^uiui ucujuu    uu    u*w night, hitting all five field goals he attempted in front of 25,609 fans at Canad Inns Stadium. But his solid performance couldn’t erase the memory of his three field goal misses in last season’s 27-19 Grey Cup loss to Calgary. “After we win (this year’s Grey Cup), then I’ll feel redeemed,” said Westwood, who is 6-for-6 on field goals this season. The Ticats lumbered to a 4-0 lead after the first quarter, but the consecutive blocked punts changed the momentum. Winnipeg defensive end Daved Benefield blocked the first punt with 2:57 left in the first half. The ball was recovered by Bomber fullback Brad Yamaoka and returned 17 yards to Hamilton’s nine-yard line. Jones then dumped a pass to running back Charles Roberts as he came out of the backfield and he ran untouched into the end zone to give Winnipeg a 9-5 lead at 12:29. On Osbaldiston’s next punt, Yamaoka made the block and the ball was recovered by Winnipeg linebacker Doug Hocking at the Ticats’ 15-yard line. Westwood turned the turnover into a 22-yard field goal and a 12-5 Bomber lead at halftime. “When they (defenders) come up the middle, by the time you recognize that anybody is on you, it’s too late,” Osbaldiston said. “A couple of mistakes by us and turnovers, if that was different, I think it CANADIAN PRESS Byron Capers of the Blue Bombers breaks up a pass to Hamilton’s Mace Freeman. would have been a different result.” Osbaldiston was good on two of three field goals, hitting from 36 and 33 yards and going wide on a 37-yard attempt. “If we come out with touchdowns (from blocked punts), it’s fantastic,” Bomber head coach Dave Ritchie said. “(The IO points) is fantastic.” Osbaldiston got his team’s first poult of the game, scoring a single off a sailing 97-yard punt with the wind at his back at 7:22 of the first. Jones was intercepted on the following possession by safety Rob Hitchcock, leading to a Hamilton field goal. Osbaldiston also recorded a single in the first and conceded a safety in the second. Hamilton’s only touchdown was a five-play, 75-yard drive in the fourth quarter that ended with fullback Duane Forde plowing in for a one-yard score to cut the lead to 18-12 at 3:33. Jones completed 22 of 36 passes for 221 yards, one touchdown and one interception. McManus was 17-of-39 for 211 yards and two interceptions. Cana Jinn Press ;