Picked up by the Kegel Coors Light team from Fargo for the North American Fastball Association ‘A’ World Series last week, John Desaulniers just wanted a chance to showcase his talents.
Desaulniers got that chance and the right-hander from Pinewood took full advantage of it, leading Kegel to a second-place finish at the NAFA showdown last weekend in Hutchinson, Kan., losing 2-0 in the final against Madison, Wis.
But equally impressive, Desaulniers, a perfect 4-0 on the mound, racking up 37 strikeouts in 33 innings and finishing with a 1.27 ERA, was one of the two selections named as a first-team, all-world pitcher.
As one of just two pitchers who made the trip with Kegel, Desaulniers saw action as both a starter and a reliever. And he rose to the challenge in both roles.
Tied 5-5 in the fifth with a runner on first and no outs against a team from Indiana, Desaulniers came on in relief and promptly retired 15 out of the 16 batters he faced as Kegel eventually won the game 8-5.
He allowed no hits and just one walk in that victory, and then was given the start in the team’s next game—hurling a complete-game 9-3 win over a team from Kansas City.
He later threw another gem, a 2-1 complete-game victory over a team from Waussau, Wis.
Desaulniers said every team there sported a lineup laden with quality hitters, many of whom had played college ball.
“Everyone on those teams had speed and they could bunt and run like mad,” said Desaulniers, who was MVP of the Rainy River District Fastball League last season while playing for the Pinewood Bears.
“It was more technical down there,” he added. “Here, everyone goes up there and whacks and whacks while there they play a lot of hit-and-run and strategy.”
Desaulniers said his best pitch during the 48-team tournament was his rise ball, which he said he used 75 percent of the time during his first win against the Indiana squad.
“A lot of those guys down there are ex-baseball players and they have a looping swing,” he recalled. “But boy, did they ever take a cut.”
Still, Desaulniers was modest about his efforts, and praised the quality of the defence behind him by making difficult plays look easy.
“The thing is, I performed like I normally do but the guys were making the plays and they didn’t screw up,” he added.
But Desaulniers also carried a big stick while playing in his second consecutive fastball World Series (he played in the ‘AA’ event with Kegel last year).
He went 10-25 as the team’s DH when he wasn’t pitching, which included a home run in a 13-2 romp over Philadelphia.
By finishing second at Kansas, Kegel earned a berth back to the ‘AA’ World Series next year in Albuquerque, N.M.