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Napanee opens midget elimination tournament with win
Posted: June 28th, 2013 @ 11:18pm
By CLAUDE SCILLEY
NORTH FREDERICKSBURGH - Just as the rain washed the first day of the Ontario midget elimination fastball tournament out of the Napanee Fairgrounds Friday, the Domville Aces rained on the hopes of the home team in the early part of their first-round game Friday night.
Then, as the clouds over the North Fred ballpark parted, so, too, did the gloom encompassing the Napanee Absolute Insulation Express. After spotting Domville an early four-run lead, the Express stopped making errors, they began to hit and they got some superb pitching as they claimed an 8-5 win.
The victory sends Napanee into a game at 9 a.m. Saturday against Tavistock, at the Fairgrounds if the fields can be whipped into shape following a day of steady rain that, inexpliably, seemed not to fall to the same extent on the North Fredericksburgh complex, just a few kilometres to the south.
Domville had the home crowd hushed after they scored four runs in the bottom of the second inning to take a 5-1 lead.
"At the first of the game we just had some nerves," said Express coach Brent Mills. "We made a couple of errors and we couldn't really get things going the way we wanted to.
"Then we kind of got going. We got some good hitting and it kind of picked everybody up. From there things kind of came together."
It appeared that Domville pitcher Luke Severson wasn't going to throw two pitches the same speed. He had Napanee batters lunging at balls that wouldn't have broken glass. By the third time through the batting order, Mills said, his players had him figured out
In the Napanee fourth, Brandon Tucker led off with a triple to right-centre and he scored one out later on a wild pitch to make the score 5-2.
Blake Hurley walked to lead off the fifth and he scored when the next batter, Haaken Zatterberg, hit a deep fly ball to right centre that went for a triple. Zatterberg scored to make it 5-4 on Branden Blunt's ground out.
Tucker reached on a two-out error and Jake Moulton singled him to third, from where he scored the tying run on a single to left by Doug Cruji. Moulton scored the go-ahead run from third when Severson sent sent a pitch over the catcher's head to the screen.
"We had good at-bats from all the guys, and we were pretty sharp on the bases, too, moving up and taking every base that we could to get those runs," Mills said. "Once we got rolling everybody kind of jumped on board and it kept going."
Napanee got two insurance runs in the sixth when, with two out and runners on second and third, Keegan Scott hit a hard ground ball that handcuffed the third baseman and dribbled into shallow left field.
By that point Napanee pitcher Joey Balkwill had taken over. Balkwill entered the game in the third inning in relief of starter Jeremy Martin. He allowed a single to the first batter he faced then retired the next nine men in a row. After he was touched for a lead-off single in the sixth, he set down the last six batters in order, four of them by strikeout.
"He's a big guy and he throws the ball hard," Mills said of the young man from Coldwater, Ont., whose path to Napanee was circuitous.
"He was a brother of one of the kids our team was playing last year in a junior tournament," Mills said. "He saw him pitching and kind of got talking to him and found out that he was midget age and was still going to be midget age this year.
"I contacted him through the winter and he came down to one of the tryouts."
Balkwill played with the Express in one tournament this month and will be with the team for the duration of this tournament.
"It was a nice find, to have a third pitcher," Mills said.
Moulton and Josh Murphy, the No. 9 hitter, each had two hits for Napanee, which had nine hits in all. Balkwill struck out six in five innings in relief of Martin, who gave up all five Domville runs, three of which were unearned.
"Sometimes they need a little bit of a wakeup call and it was good tonight that they kind of followed right in," Mills said. "They didn't give up, didn't pack it in when we were in trouble."
Other first-round winners last night were Port Perry and Pickering. Twelve teams are competing in the three-day event that will determine who will represent Ontario at the national under-18 championship in St-Leonard d'Aston, Que., in August. The top three teams at this tournament will advance.
Napanee 100 142 0 - 8 9 2
Domville 140 000 0 - 5 7 1
Jeremy Martin, Joey Balkwill (W) (3) and Branden Blunt; Luke Severson (L), Matt McIntyre (6) and Alex Boswall.
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