NAPANEE, Aug. 13—Napanee Shoeless Joe’s Express goes into the final game tonight at the Softball Canada junior men’s championship tournament at the Fairgrounds having already clinched fourth place, and the coveted double playoff life that comes with it.
Napanee ended a two-game losing streak at the nine-team tournament with an 8-1 win Thursday morning over Quebec. It was the fourth win in seven games for Shoeless Joe’s, and eliminated any chance of being overtaken by the team from St.-Leonard d’Aston.
Then all the other elements fell into place to render the outcome of the Express’s final game, at 7 o’clock against Newfoundland-Labrador, moot, at least, as far as the final standings are concerned.
At first, the quest for fourth place became muddled when the Saskatoon Diamondbacks upset the defending champion team from Alberta, handing the Irma Tigers a 12-8 defeat to get back into contention for fourth place at 4-3.
(The importance of finishing fourth in the round-robin preliminary round is that, of the six teams that make the playoff round, the top four must be defeated twice to be eliminated; the other two are out with their first loss).
At this point, two teams—the Diamondbacks and Newfoundland-Labrador—had an opportunity to vault past Napanee into fourth place, but then Newfoundland lost, 8-4, to the Saskatoon Bullets, a team that had just one win to that point, and the Diamondbacks lost their final round-robin game, 7-3 to the Tavistock Athletics, to end the preliminary round 4-4.
Even with a loss tonight against Newfoundland, Napanee would be 4-4, but the Expores holds the tie-breaker over the Saskatchewan champion by virtue of a 9-4 win over the Diamondbacks Tuesday night.
In its first game of the day, the Express led 2-0 going into the top of the fifth inning, when three runs put Napanee into a more comfortable lead. Pitcher Cole Bolton led off with a single, Josh Maguire singled and Taylor Brown drove them both home with a double. Cody Brooks was hit by a pitch and one out later Brown scored on a single by pinch-hitter Keegan Scott.
Scott was doubled off second when Barry Hogeboom filed out to right field, to end the rally.
Brown finished the game 4-for-4, with four runs driven in. Bolton, Maguire, Jeff St. Pierre and Brett Irwin had two hits apiece in a 14-hit Napanee attack.
Bolton gained the pitching win, striking out two and scattering nine singles. Alexandre Lemieux had two of those hits for Quebec, and he drove in the only run with a two-out single in the sixth.
In their early game, the Napanee Abundant Insuilation Express remained winless as they were beaten 13-4 by the undefeated Ontario champion Stratford-New Hamburg Cubs. The game was close through three innings, with Stratford nursing a 2-1 lead, when the Cubs, aided by three Napanee errors, exploded for five runs in the top of the fourth. Three more runs in the fifth inning all but assured their seventh straight victory.
Steve Lyons was 5-for-5 for Stratford, with a double and a run batted in. Jake Moulton had four hits in the 17-hit onslaught, including a two-out, solo home run in the fifth. Johnny
Baker struck out 10, a single-game tournament high, and allowed just five his for the pitching win.
Blake Hurley was the only Napanee batter with two hits, a two-run home run in the fifth and an RBI single in the seventh.