Every team alive at senior nationals
* Mitch Hodge fanned 10 as Prince George was edged 3-2 by the Fort Saskatchewan A’s ….
By Jim Swanson
Prince George, B.C. — Going into the final day of round-robin play at the 2012 RE/MAX Baseball Canada senior championship, the national tournament for men’s amateur baseball teams, absolutely nothing is clear.
Each team is still in the hunt, and no team is out. The Chatham Ironmen and Fort Saskatchewan Athletics have clinched berths in the playoffs, both with 2-0 records to lead their respective pools, but neither team has locked up first place and the automatic berth into Sunday’s semifinal games at Citizen Field.
Yes, Saturday’s four games will all have meaning, as even the winless teams still have life.
At 9 am at Citizen Field, Chatham (New Brunswick, 2-0) will face Victoria (BC, 1-1), and a Chatham win will put the Ironmen, the host team in the 2011 nationals, directly into the semifinal. Victoria needs a win to avoid potentially falling out of the tournament.
Also at 9 am, but at Rotary Field, the Strathroy Royals (Ontario 2, 0-2) will be up against the Reston Rockets (Manitoba, 1-1), and a Strathroy win combined with a Victoria loss will lead to the tie-breaking procedures being set in place to determine the three teams that are advancing to the playoffs from the four-team pool.
Then, at noon, the other pool will be cleared up. At Rotary Field, the defending champion Windsor Stars (Ontario 1, 1-1) will be looking to hand the Fort Saskatchewan A’s (Alberta, 2-0) their first loss, which would keep Windsor in the hunt for first place. A Fort Saskatchewan win locks up first place for the 2009 champions, who have already secured a spot in the 2013 nationals, to be hosted by Windsor.
At Citizen Field at noon, the host Prince George Westcana Electric Axemen (host, 1-1) will be up against the Halifax Canadians (Nova Scotia, 0-2), with Halifax still holding a shot at making the playoffs. Fort Saskatchewan, Windsor and Prince George all remain in the hunt for first place, while the wrong combination of results could end up with Halifax, Prince George or Windsor missing the playoffs entirely.
Pitching ruled the results on Friday, with three of the four games decided by three runs or less. The only exception was the Reston Rockets blasting off against the Victoria Mavericks with a 7-2 trouncing, keyed by a five-run third inning that chased Victoria starter Shawn Loglisci. Greg Hockin went the distance for the Manitobans, and Rory Tycoles and Drew Haight had two RBIs apiece.
Jake Waugh allowed five hits over seven innings, going the distance, as the Chatham Ironmen beat the Strathroy Royals 5-2. Derek Wilson hit his second home run of the tournament, driving in three runs in the game, and Tyson Waye had the other two runs driven in as Chatham took the driver’s seat in their pool. Matt Grasby was the losing pitcher, giving up eight hits and five earned runs. Taylor Castrillo was 2-3 for Strathroy.
The Windsor Stars came within an inning of falling to 0-2, but scored twice in the bottom of the seventh – their first runs of the tournament – to stun the Halifax Canadians in a 2-1 final. John Picco was the winning pitcher for Windsor, going the distance, while Drandon McKinnon came on in relief of Jeff Reeves in that final inning and took the loss. Tyler Plumpton’s single scored Thomas Grubb for the winning run.
In the late game, veteran lefty Jordy Alexander gave up a run each in the first and second innings, but put up zeros from there as Fort Saskatchewan escaped with a 3-2 win over the host Prince George Westcana Electric Axemen. Alexander, a lefty, struck out seven, walked two, and scattered five hits over seven innings of work, while Prince George pitcher Mitch Hodge, a right-hander who was a fourth-round draft choice of the Kansas City Royals in 2007, fanned 10 and surrendered six hits, walking five others, to take the loss. Mitch Grossel’s single to centre in the bottom of the sixth inning drove in the winning run.