Tanner Smith has a chance to be at the top of his class someday.
But the road between now and then is filled with hard lessons for the inexperienced.
The young Northwest Bay Chieftains' pitcher got one of those lessons Sunday from the visiting Barwick Blue Knights, who cruised to a 25-1 victory in a makeup game.
Smith, the ace for the Northwest Bay Juniors last season, moved over to the Chieftains (3-4) this year and received accolades from the third-place Knights (6-1) on showing plenty of promise.
But the defending West Division champs used a homer from Brandan Pratt, and a great pitching outing from regular catcher Kevin Gemmell, to earn to their fifth-straight victory in a game originally slated for Thursday evening.
The Chieftains have now lost two in a row and sit in eighth place.
In games that did get played Thursday, the first-place Dawson Tigers (7-1) relied mostly on the strong right arm of Jeff Morrison to get past Windey's Warriors 4-1 to extend their own winning streak to five games.
Morrison improved to 6-0 on the season while Sean Councillor took the loss for the Warriors (3-5).
The Fort Frances Braves (6-0) remained undefeated in holding down second place, walloping the last-place Sabaskong Cubs 35-3 (0-7).
Jaden Gustafson, Mike Parisien, Brian Hook, Cole Tymkin, and Travis Tom all went deep.
Tom earned the win over Burton Woods.
Meanwhile, the defending champion Sight & Sound Wolves (6-1), currently tied for third place with Barwick, routed the expansion Sabaskong Goldeneyes 26-2 at VanJura.
Kurtis Wepruk, Matt Booth, and Dan Calvert all homered for the Wolves while Murray Armstrong beat Darryl Beacham in the pitching matchup.
The Stratton Eagles (5-2) snapped a two-game losing skid with a 15-12 win over the Manitou Thunderbirds.
Guy Arpin got the victory while Logan Jackson homered for fifth-place Stratton.
Dan Servello took the loss for the Thunderbirds (1-6), who are tied for 10th with the Goldeneyes and Rainy River Royals.
That's despite league home run leader Mike Jourdain tearing it up right now.
He bashed two more dingers against the Eagles to give him five on the season, including four over the past three games.
Thursday's other game saw the Couchiching Raiders dump Rainy River 20-3.
Sheldon Kelly Jr. topped Myron Armstrong in the pitching battle while Reo Walton pounded a pair of homers for the seventh-place Raiders (4-2).
Ryan McDonald and Todd Morrisseau also homered, with Tony Armstrong going deep for the Royals
The sixth-place Sabaskong Lakers (4-1) and 13th-place Northwest Bay Juniors (0-5) had the bye Thursday.
League action resumes tomorrow at 7 p.m., including a third-place showdown between the Wolves and Knights in Barwick.
The Braves host Rainy River, the Cubs are at Couchiching, and the Warriors are in Sabaskong to face the Lakers.
The Chieftains head to Dawson, the Juniors host Stratton, and Manitou hits the road against the Goldeneyes.