Prairies Purple makes T12 final behind stellar pitching effort

Prairies Purple players celebrate on the mound following an upset win over Ontario Green. Photo Credit: Leah Smith

Prairies Purple players celebrate on the mound following an upset win over Ontario Green. Photo Credit: Leah Smith

By: Steve Gordon

Canadian Baseball Network

Prairies Purple is heading to the Tournament 12 final after a solid pitching and defensive effort allowed the team to hold on for a 5-2 win over Ontario Green at Rogers Centre Thursday.

The Prairies’ offence put up five runs in the first two innings and that was all the support starting pitcher Carson Perkins and reliever Branden Hatley would need to close out the semi-final game and set up a meeting with Quebec Blue in the final Friday morning.

Jim Baba, part of the Prairies’ coaching staff, was pleased with both of his pitchers.

“(Perkins) throws strikes, that’s the main thing with these one and one counts,” said Baba,  “throw strikes and stay ahead of the guys, and he did that in both of his games.

“Same thing with Hats (Hatley), he just pitched yesterday, he felt he had two or three in him and he did.  You can see with him as well, constantly hitting the strike zone.”

Prairies Purple has also been efficient defensively, allowing the pitchers to throw with more confidence.

The team had fewer errors than its opponent and didn’t give anything easy to Ontario Green in the win.

“The one thing we’ve done all tournament is play great defence,” said the coach.  “We’re making the plays, we’re not making a bunch of errors and then our pitchers don’t have to throw that extra 10 pitches to get outs, in 10-12 pitches they’re getting their three outs.”

Perkins pitched four innings, allowing just one run on three hits and struck out four.

The right-hander wasn’t showing any signs of fatigue, however, he was feeling the effects of two starts in three days and didn’t want to affect his team’s chance at winning.

“After the third my arm was just tight and sore,” said the Bienfait, Sask. native.  “The arm was just tired and I knew we had guys in the pen to back it up, so I didn’t want to push myself.

“I wanted to do what’s best for the team, so I gave it what I had and once I felt that I wasn’t able to do it to the best of my ability, I handed it over.”

Hatley was just as reliable in relief of Perkins, allowing just one run in his three innings of work including four strikeouts through the fifth and sixth frames.

Making the decision to leave the game was easier for Perkins knowing he had someone he trusts coming into the game.

“Hatter’s (Hatley) got a great head on his shoulders,” said Perkins.  “He’s a great pitcher and he has great stuff, so I have all the trust in the world in him.”

Ontario Green took an early lead in the top of the first when left-fielder Gibson Krzeminski drove one to right field, bringing Owen Jensen in from second base.  Krzeminski was later thrown out at second as he tried to get the extra base, ending the inning.

Prairies Purple responded quickly, loading the bases in the bottom of the first and managed to bring two runners across the plate to take the lead 2-1.

They loaded the bases again in the second after a lead-off walk and two consecutive base hits by Victor Cerny and Ty Enns.

Prairies were able to put up another three runs before Ontario Green right-hander Hunter Spoljaric was able to end the threat striking out Tyler Wood.

Sam Turcotte entered the game in relief to start the third inning after the struggling Spoljaric gave up four hits, walked four, and allowed five runs in just two innings of work.

Turcotte retired the side in order, including two strikeouts.

Ontario Green made it a little closer in the top of the sixth with an RBI-single from first baseman Ryan Rijo, bringing Nick Howie in to score from second.