NAPANEE—Both of the top-seeded teams got a scare Saturday morning but they both survived and they will meet at 5 o’clock this afternoon in the playoff round of the Softball Canada junior men’s championship tournament at the Fairgrounds.
Napanee Shoeless Joe’s Express, trailing by four going into the bottom of the sixth inning of its game with Quebec, scored four runs and then, after allowing Quebec to regain a three-run lead in the top of the seventh, scored four more in the bottom half of the inning to prevail 10-9.
In the other game, the fifth-seeded Saskatoon Diamondbacks led the Tavistock Athletics 4-0 going into the bottom of the seventh, when the A’s scored four times to tie the game and send it into extra innings, where the No. 2 Ontario team won in the eighth, 5-4.
That means Napanee and Tavistock will meet in a reprise of the bronze-medal game at the Ontario elimination tournament, where the Express won, and a preliminary round game here, where Tavistock scored twice in the seventh inning to gain a 4-3 victory.
Saturday morning against Quebec—a team Napanee had defeated 8-1 Thursday, on the final day of the round robin—the Express was down 6-2 when it came to bat in the bottom of the sixth. Three singles and two Quebec errors later, the Express had tied the game.
In the top of the seventh, however, Quebec, which won twice Friday to emerge from a three-team tie for sixth place with the final berth in the playoff round, took the lead again, with a two-run triple by Samuel Desmarais and a two-out RBI single by No. 9 hitter Francois-Charles Rene the big blows.
Napanee, which lost three times in the preliminary round in the last inning of a ball game, would have none of that this time. Singles by Josh Maguire, Jeff St. Pierre and Sloan Creighton loaded the bases with one out, and Mackenzie Pringle’s double drove two of them home. A wild pitch—the fifth of the game by Quebec pitcher Marc-Andre Villeneuve—scored the tying run and Brett Irwin brought Pringle home with a sacrifice fly.
Pringle, added to the Express for this tournament from his team in Owen Sound, earlier hit a solo home run for Napanee, his fourth of the week.
Cole Bolton, working five-plus innings in relief of starter Eric Morgan, got the pitching win, though it was an ugly one, as Quebec solved the Napanee hurlers for 17 hits.
Earlier, Tavistock trailed the No. 1 Sasakatchewan team 4-0 going into the bottom of the seventh. Three straight singles set the tables for Tavistock catcher Zack Stevenson, who belted his fifth home run of the tournament to tie the game.
The A’s scored a single run in the bottom of the eighth to win.
The winner of the Napanee-Tavistock game will eliminate the loser, and advance to Sunday morning’s game with the defending champion Irma, Alta., Tigers, who were beaten in Saturday afternoon’s ‘undefeated’ game 10-3 by the Stratford-New Hamburg Cubs.
The loser of that game, at noon, will take home the bronze medals. The winner will advance to play Stratford at 3 o’clock for the championship.