By Adam Morissette
Host New Brunswick and Ontario will meet in Sunday’s first semi-final match-up after both squads clinched first place in their respective pools on Saturday at the Baseball Canada Cup in Moncton.
Meanwhile, BC will play in the other semi-final awaiting the winner of Québec and Nova Scotia who will square off in a quarterfinal contest on Sunday morning.
New Brunswick won their fourth consecutive game and earned top spot in Pool B receiving a complete-game shutout from Jordan Fortin to get by PEI, 3-0. Max Grant’s sac-fly in the third scored the only run New Brunswick would need who later added insurance markers on a Ryan Scott RBI double and Logan Sheasgreen run-scoring single.
Ontario improved to 4-1 and clinched top spot in Pool A with a 5-3 win over defending Canada Cup gold medalists Saskatchewan. Ontario overcame an early three-run deficit scoring five unanswered runs and rode the arms of Owen MacNeil who recorded the win and Jake Rogers who tossed three scoreless innings with seven strikeouts.
Facing a must-win game against Ontario, BC scored seven times in the fifth en route an 8-5 win. Adam Maier and Madjik Mackenzie had two doubles apiece and combined for three RBI. Reid Dawson got the win working five innings with three strikeouts. Eric Martin gave Ontario four and two-thirds innings of work on the mound and drove in a pair.
Québec and Saskatchewan faced each other with a playoff spot on the line and it was Québec who ended Saskatchewan’s hopes with a 7-4 win. Viktor Bergeron struck out nine over five and two-thirds innings pitched while Cedric Degrandpre went 3-for-4 with three RBI. Tyler McWillie hit a three-run homer in the fifth that tied the score before Québec took the lead in the sixth.
After a loss in the morning, Nova Scotia moved to 3-2 thanks to a 4-2 win over Manitoba that was imperative to their cause in hopes of clinching second spot in Pool B and a quarterfinal berth. Layton Cuvilier went the distance and struck out three while Chris Ritchie had a hit and drove in a run.
In other Saturday games:
Gabriel Penalver knocked in four runs to lead PEI to an 11-2 win over Newfoundland & Labrador.
Cohen Achen tossed five innings to earn the win while Ayden Makarus went 2-for-3 with a double, stolen base and scored two runs as Alberta topped Nova Scotia, 7-5.
Adam Maier tossed six innings of two-hit ball and didn’t allow an earned run to lead BC to an 11-1, mercy rule win over Québec. Brad Cox had three hits including a double and drove in four runs.
Brady Kobitowich turned in a tremendous effort on the mound going the distance in blanking previously unbeaten New Brunswick, 2-0. Kobitowich scattered three hits, didn’t walk anyone and struck out seven.
Jordan Lussier and Daegen Morcom drove in three runs each to lead Manitoba to a 12-2 win over Newfoundland & Labrador. Tyson Pringle went three and two-thirds scoreless innings on the mound in relief and had four strikeouts.