The Wiarton Red Devils have got their groove back and all it took was their coach getting tossed from a game on Thursday.
Coach Mark Hooey and pitcher Ty Sebastian got the heave-ho in a 5-4 win over Stratford on Thursday afternoon after their frustration boiled over at the umpires because of illegal pitch calls.
"Let's hope it woke them up a little bit"," Hooey said Thursday evening after Wiarton downed the host Keady Jets 7-0.
"We needed a wake-up call."
The issue at Duncan McLellan Park's major diamond is a soft infield.
Hooey said the pitchers are having a hard time finding a hard piece of earth to push off on and once their foot digs a hole at the back of the rubber, they're technically throwing an illegal pitch.
This rule hasn't been called by every umpiring crew but the ones that are, call it often.
"The infield is way too soft and it's giving the pitchers a hard time," said Hooey.
"It's a concern when they're not pushing off on hard ground. It's a great way to get injured."
Several yards of direct were added to the infield in late June.
Jets' coach and tournament organizer Paul White said a lot of dirt was removed from the infield about two weeks ago and calcium was added to make it harder.
"It's not as hard as you'd like but we took a whole bunch of sand off of it or it would have been worse," White said.
"There's really no issue with the infield."
Infield controversy aside, the big news for Wiarton was a pair of wins that had the R'Devils in contention for first.
"We just haven't played our best ball yet," said Hooey. "We haven't found our identity so to speak. I think we did (on Thursday) and hopefully we can carry it on."
The R'Devils finished tied for second at 6-2 with Newfoundland, a game behind 7-1 Napanee.
But the defending Canadian champions beat Wiarton in round-robin play so Newfoundland is second and the R'Devils are third.
Those two teams will meet at 8:30 p.m. tonight in one double-life game.
Napanee and Saskatoon will face off in the other at 6:30 p.m.
Wiarton chipped away at Keady in its 7-0 win with second-baseman Austin Brown hitting a solo homer.
"We just wanted the boys to be loose but also be in the game," R'Devils' assistant coach Trevor Couch said.
"They're starting to get their heads into it and it's what we wanted, to start building momentum for the weekend."
Wiarton pitcher Michael Lagace-Roote allowed a hit and a walk while striking out 12 over five innings before being lifted because of a foot blister.
"He wasn't going to pitch but we were a man short so he sucked it up and did a great job for us," said Couch.
"He pitched five awesome innings for us. He didn't even want to come out. He wanted to stay in so he's a real gamer."
Travis Jones pitched an inning of hitless relief.
Keady pitcher Brandon Peck gave up seven runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out three over five innings.
Ryan Hepburn allowed two hits while striking out one in two-thirds of an inning of relief.
Jones and Brent Davis both hit two-run homers for Wiarton in its 5-4 win over Stratford.
Sebastian allowed two runs on four hits and a walk while striking out two in two innings of work.
Andy Barber earned the win in relief, going five innings and allowing three hits and a walk while striking out seven.
Stratford's Sean de Groot gave up five runs on six hits and a walk while striking out eight.
The loss to Wiarton means Keady will now play in the consolation championship at noon on Saturday to determine the seventh-place finisher.
The Saskatoon Junior Bullets and the Stratford Cubs will meet at 4:30 p.m. tonight in the consolation semifinal.
The winner will play Keady on Saturday.
"We had hoped to be playing a meaningful game on Saturday," Jets' coach Paul White said.
"We needed to win two games (on Thursday ) and just couldn't do it. We were hoping to get to the double life and we needed some miracles and didn't get them."
Keady scored three times in the bottom of the seventh for a 7-6 win over the Saskatoon Junior Bullets on Thursday afternoon.
"It was great and the kids never gave up and they played hard the whole game," said White.
Shortstop Nick Yeh had a two-run single in the seventh while Luke White knocked in the other run with a single.
Second-baseman Cody Skelton was three-for-three with two RBIs in the win.
Peck allowed 10 hits while striking out 12 in the win.
Bullets' pitcher Aidan Patrick allowed 13 hits and three walks while striking out five in the loss.
Follow Bill Walker on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BillWalkerST