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Seventh-inning HR by Cody Brooks propels Napanee into Canadian junior final
Posted: August 10th, 2013 @ 10:53pm
By CLAUDE SCILLEY
A two-run home run by Cody Brooks with two out in the bottom of the seventh inning lifted the Napanee Express to a 6-5 win over defending champion Newfoundland at the Softball Canada junior men's championship tournament Saturday night in Owen Sound.
"He crushed it," Express coach Ryan Sharpe said. "There was no doubt about it. He hit it a long way."
Napanee trailed 5-3 going into its last at-bat when the lead-off batter, Cole Bolton, reached base when Newfoundland catcher Ryan Kirk couldn't handle strike three. Bolton took second on a passed ball and scored on a one-out double by Curtis Leonard.
Leonard was at second with two out when Brooks fouled off two 2-2 pitches before belting the game-winning homer over the fence to straightaway centre field.
"He had a good at bat, for sure," Sharpe said. "He hits left-handed pitching very well, for whatever reason, and he was really confident. He looked confident, as soon as he went to the dish. We were just looking for a single to tie it, but he got a pitch he could handle.
"It was pretty exciting."
It was Brooks' fourth home run of the tournament and his second of the game. His three-run shot in the first inning erased an early 3-0 Newfoundland lead.
With the win Napanee advances to the championship game at 1 p.m. tomorrow and assured itself of at least a silver medal. Newfoundland, with its loss, moves into bronze medal game tomorrow against Ontario champion Wiarton, a 7-3 winner Saturday night over Saskatchewan.
It was the second time in the tournament that Napanee, now 9-1 overall, defeated Newfoundland and the fourth time the Express has come from behind this week to win a game.
It took the Kelly's Pub Canadians no time to jump on Napanee pitcher Brandon Sands. A lead-off single and a one-out home run by Jeremy O'Reilly gave Newfoundland a 2-0 lead that grew by a run one out later when Daniel Dalton hit a solo homer.
It was the seventh home run of the tournament for O'Reilly, the Newfoundland shortstop, and Dalton's fourth.
The Express promptly got it back with three in the bottom of the first, when Taylor Brown walked, Jarrett Williams hit a two-out single and Brooks homered, also over the centre-field fence.
Newfoundland went ahead with two runs in the fourth. With one out Dalton singled, Mark Power reached on an error and they both scored on a double by Johnny Doyle. Another error, this one by centre fielder Sloan Creighton on a ball hit by Troy Leonard, might have cost the Express another run had Creighton not made amends by throwing Doyle out at home as he tried to score.
Sands recovered from his shaky start to strike out four batters, including the first two of the third inning, at which point he was replaced by Bolton. Bolton struck out five the rest of the way, and neither Napanee pitcher walked a man.
Leonard, Williams and Brooks had two hits apiece against Newfoundland pitcher Colin Walsh, who was making his ninth Canadian junior championship appearance in the last two years and was 4-0 in this year's preliminary round. Walsh allowed seven hits and struck out 11, but he walked four.
Newfoundland managed just six hits against Sands and Bolton, only three after the first inning. After his home run, O'Reilly, a .556 hitter (15-for-27) in the round-robin, was silenced, striking out and popping up to the pitcher in his other two at-bats.
The stirring victory will be a difficult act to follow, Sharpe allowed, but he said the team is intent on doing just that.
"It will be a tough match, whoever we play," he said, "but we're not going to settle for just winning a medal. We want the grand prize and they deserve it, the players, the coaching staff and the parents who did the fundraising so we could come here.
"We're going back to work tomorrow at 1 o'clock."
Newfoundland 300 200 0 - 5 6 0
Napanee 300 000 3 - 6 7 2
Colin Walsh (L,4-1) and Ryan Kirk; Brandon Sands, Cole Bolton (W,3-0) (3) and Cody Brooks. HRs: Nfld - Jeremy O'Reilly (7), Daniel Dalton (4); Nap - Cody Brooks 2 (4).
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