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Napanee ousted from midget fastball elimination tournament
Posted: June 29th, 2013 @ 12:09pm
By CLAUDE SCILLEY
NAPANEE - A bases-loaded walk with nobody out in the bottom of the eighth inning sent the Napanee Absolute Insulation Express to a 4-3 defeat Saturday night at the hands of the Kitchener-Waterloo Kolts, one that knocked the host team out of the Ontario midget fastball elimination tournament at the Fairgrounds.
"It's really tough," said Express coach Brent Mills, whose team's two defeats both came in the opponent's final at-bat.
"It's really tough to lose and go walking away when the games are so tight."
Kitchener is one of four teams that survived to the final day of the 12-team event that will determine who will represent the province at the national under-18 championship at St-Leonard d'Aston, Que., in August. The Kolts will play Tavistock at 9 a.m. Sunday, with the winner getting the third and final berth.
Teeswater, the only remaining undefeated team, and Port Perry, the last team Teeswater beat, already have the other two spots at the national tournament. The Kitchener-Tavistock winner - coincidentally, those are the two teams that beat Napanee - will play Port Perry at 11 a.m. for the right to meet Teeswater in the tournament final at 1 o'clock.
Napanee's hopes for advancing to the Canadian championship for the 11th time in 13 years were dealt a severe blow Saturday morning when the Express was beaten 5-4 by Tavistock. Then followed wins of 9-5 over Cobourg and 6-5 over Fullarton that sent the Express into Saturday night's game with Kitchener.
Napanee scored first and the Express then survived a scare in the bottom of the first when, with a man on first and one out, Johnny Baker hit a shot off the fence in deep centre field. Instead of tying the game or, at minimum, having runners on second and third, Kitchener's inning ended when first Brent Eby was thrown out at home trying to score and then Baker was gunned down at third trying to move up on the throw home.
With two out in the third inning Haaken Zatterberg's second double of the game was cashed by Josh Murphy's single. Napanee led 2-0 going into the bottom of the fourth, when Kitchener scored twice on three consecutive base-hits.
Napanee answered immediately when two wild pitches allowed Jeremy Martin, who had doubled, to score a go-ahead run but Kitchener tied the game again in the home half of the fifth on an RBI triple by Baker to almost the same spot in centre field as his earlier rocket off the fence.
There was no scoring until the eighth inning when, as per the so-called international rule for breaking ties, the teams started their respective innings with a runner on second base. Zatterberg stole third on Kitchener's left-handed catcher, Darren Strickland, on the first pitch but then Baker, pitching in relief for Kitchener since the fifth inning, struck out Napanee's 3-4-5 hitters in order.
In the bottom of the eighth, Napanee pitcher Joey Balkwill sent his first pitch to the screen, putting the winning run on third base. The Express intentionally walked the next two batters to load the bases but the strategy backfired when Balkwill then walked Dalton Roth on a 3-1 pitch to send the winning run home.
"We loaded the bases so we could throw the ball home and get the guy out without having to tag him," Napanee coach Brent Mills explained. "Otherwise you have to get it, look at the guy at third and decide whether you want to get him out - and then it's a tough play. There are a lot of different things that can happen when you don't have a force play at home so we thought we'd load them up and try and get a force.
"It just didn't go our way."
Mills coached most of his players last year when, as bantams, they missed by one spot qualifying for the eastern Canadian championship. For a team that was, but for three players, comprised of first-year midgets, he remains hopeful.
"It was a success in that we did a good job and we hit the ball," Mills said, "but it's disappointing because we came in with the goal of qualifying to go to nationals and we came up short.
"It was a good experience. Last year we were in the same boat. Hopefully we can build on this and learn so we won't be in this situation again."
The key lesson to be learned, Mills said, is never to let up.
"You can't have any letups because as soon as you do, the other team's coming right back, especially when you're on the losers side, where everybody's going home if they lose so everybody's going hard," he said. "A few key plays, a few key moments that didn't go our way, kind of changed the whole tournament for us."
Alex Douglas pitched the first five innings for Napanee. He gave up seven hits, five of them in a seven-batter stretch in the fourth and fifth innings, during which Kitchener scored its first three runs. He struck out six. Balkwill didn't give up a hit in the sixth or seventh, striking out four, before allowing the game-winning run in the eighth.
Kitchener starter Steven Malott pitched the first four innings, gave up his fifth hit, Martin's double, to lead off the fifth, before departing. He struck out five. Baker struck out eight in four innings and allowed just two hits, including Zatterberg's third straight double.
* * *
In the 6-5 win over Fullarton late Saturday afternoon, Napanee, as it did in its previous contest, began the game by loading the bases with nobody out in the first inning. This time, however, they got something out of it when Brandon Blunt ripped a double to left field. That's all the Express got, however, and it was looking ominous when the A's scored twice in the top of the second, on a two-out, two-run single by Dan Bader, to tie the score.
Napanee answered with two runs in the bottom half of the inning, on Blake Hurley's RBI triple and a single by Josh Murphy, and the Express went ahead 6-2 in the fourth when Douglas singled and scored two wild pitches later on a ground out by Wyatt Fenwick and Hurley reached on an error and scored on a single by Zatterberg.
Errors plagued Napanee throughout the tournament and Fullarton capitalized when Douglas dropped Derek Elliott's foul pop near first to lead off the A's fourth. Two pitches later Elliott hit a home run to the deepest part of the ball park in centre field. Two more runs in the top of the sixth, on a one-out triple by Jerret Skinner, made things interesting but Martin, pitching for Napanee, got out of the jam and allowed just one hit in the seventh to preserve the victory.
Martin went the distance for the pitching win, allowing nine hits and striking out eight. Elliott finished the game with three hits and three runs scored.
Napanee had eight hits against a pair of Fullarton pitchers. Zatterberg and Josh Murphy had two hits apiece for the A's.
* * *
Earlier Saturday afternoon Napanee scored four runs in the second inning and they never looked back as they defeated the Cobourg Clippers 9-5.
A lead-off double by Napanee starter Douglas ignited the second-inning rally. Fenwick then singled to drive in the game's first run and Murphy beat out his attempt at a sacrifice bunt for a base hit. A sacrifice by Hurley moved the runners up and Zatterberg drove both men home with a double to left-centre.
Zatterberg scored on a single by Blunt, who was thrown out at second trying to stretch it into a double.
Cobourg scored twice in the bottom of the second, and after single Napanee runs in the third and fourth, the Clippers closed to 6-4 in the bottom of the fourth, an inning where Napanee made four errors and allowed Cobourg to score twice without benefit of a base-hit.
A single, walk, sacrifice and sacrifice fly produced two runs for Napanee in the fifth and Jake Moulton's two-out triple in the sixth completed scoring.
Zatterberg, Blunt, Moulton and 8-9 hitters Fenwick and Murphy each had two hits in an 11-hit Napanee attack. Douglas and Joey Balkwill, who entered the game in the fourth inning after Douglas walked the first two batters, combined on a six-hitter.
* * *
A lead-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning gave the Tavistock Athletics a 5-4 win over Napanee Saturday morning.
Playing at the Fairgrounds, Napanee tied the game with two out in the top of the seventh inning but Travis Ramseyer, 0-for-3 to that point, tagged Balkwill for a fly ball to straightaway centre field to start the home half of the inning. Brandon Tucker misjudged the ball and it sailed over his head and rolled all the way to the fence for an inside-the-park homer.
It was Tavistock's second lead-off home run of the game. Liam LaForest cleared the right field fence to tie the game 1-1 in the second inning. LaForest also tripled and scored a run in a two-run fourth.
Napanee opened scoring when Blunt homered with two out in the top of the first. In the top of the third Hurley walked and Zatterberg drove him in with a triple. Zatterberg scored on a wild pitch.
Dylan Taylor came on to pitch with one out in the third and he struck out the next two batters. He struck out the side after an infield hit in the fifth and allowed just three hits and struck out seven altogether.
The game was tied 3-3 going into the bottom of the sixth when Tavistock's Travis Hyde singled and scored when Napanee left fielder Doug Cruji misplayed a single by Taylor. It was the third tainted run given up by the Express, after LaForest scored on an error in the fourth and Tristan Hohl scored on a single by Taylor, who stayed alive at the plate after catcher Blunt dropped a foul pop.
Napanee tied the game in the top of the seventh after the first two batters made out. Blunt singled - his third hit of the game - pinch runner Zatterberg stole second and Keegan Scott walked. Zatterberg scored when Tucker's ground ball to second was misplayed. With runners on first and second Jake Moulton looked at a called third strike to end the threat.
Balkwill, Napanee's opening night winning pitcher, struck out four and allowed 10 hits.
ONTARIO MIDGET ELIMINATION TOURNAMENT
(at North Fredericksburgh)
Port Perry 10 Cobourg 6
Pickering 13 Alvinston 4
Napanee 8 Domville 5
Fullarton 16 Jarvis 1
Port Perry 2 Innerkip 1
Kitchener-Waterloo 7 Pickering 0
Tavistock 5 Napanee 4
Teeswater 3 Fullarton 2
Port Perry 4 Kitchener-Waterloo 2
Teeswater 10 Tavistock 2
Teeswater 3 Port Perry 2
Innerkip 6 Domville 5
Pickering 11 Jarvis 7
Napanee 9 Cobourg 5
Fullerton 11 Alvinston 4
Napanee 6 Fullarton 5
Pickering 4 Innerkip 1
Tavistock 6 Pickering 5
Kitchener-Waterloo 4 Napanee 3 (8 innings)
(at Napanee Fairgrounds)
Tavistock vs. Kitchener-Waterloo, 9 a.m.
Tavistock-Kitchener winner vs. Port Perry, 11 a.m.
Semifinal winner vs. Teeswater, 1 p.m.
Napanee 102 000 1 - 4 7 3
Tavistock 010 201 1 - 5 10 1
Joey Balkwill (L,1-1) and Branden Blunt; Jesse Deneerd, Dylan Taylor (W,1-0) (3) and Travis Ramseyer. HRs: Nap - Blunt (1); Tav - Liam LaForest (1), Ramseyer (1).
Napanee 041 121 0 - 9 11 6
Cobourg 020 210 0 - 5 6 1
Alex Douglas, Joey Balkwill (W,2-1) (4) and Branden Blunt; Blake Sullivan, Mitchell Gibson (5) and Josh Maguire.
Fullarton 020 102 0 - 5 9 1
Napanee 220 200 x - 6 8 1
Braden Bertens (L), Tyler Pauli (4) and Matt Rock; Jeremy Martin (W,1-0) and Branden Blunt. HR: Ful - Derek Elliott.
Napanee 101 010 00 - 3 7 1
Kitchener-Waterloo 000 210 01 - 4 7 1
Alex Douglas, Joey Balkwill (L,2-2) and Branden Blunt; Steve Malott, Johnny Baker (W) (5) and Darren Strickland.
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