By Adam Morissette
Please see below for information from Day 5 of the Canada Games Baseball Competition in Winnipeg, Manitoba:
WINNIPEG - It will be an all-prairie battle for Canada Games gold after host Manitoba and Saskatchewan earned semi-final wins to qualify for the championship contest on Friday. Manitoba used the home field advantage and came away with a 1-0 win over Alberta while Saskatchewan hit their way to a 7-0 win over Ontario. Neither province has a Canada Games baseball gold medal on their resumes although Manitoba has three silver medals to their credit ('73, '77, '85) while Saskatchewan has one ('89).
SF #1: Manitoba 1 Alberta 0 - A two-out, pinch-hit double off the bat of Tanner Boyle in the bottom of the sixth gave Manitoba a 1-0 lead and they held on the beat Alberta and advance to the Canada Games baseball gold medal game for the first time since 1985. Over 2,000 celebrated at Shaw Park as reliever Jordan Lussier induced a fly out from Alberta's Matthew Coutney with the bases load to end the game. Manitoba's Noah Geekie and Alberta's Branden Woods carried shutouts into the sixth before both clubs got into their bullpens. After Lussier failed to execute a squeeze bunt that saw Jared McCorrister tagged out at home, he advanced to first on a hit by pitch before moving to second on a wild pitch, and later scored on Boyle's double.
SF#2: Saskatchewan 7 Ontario 0 - Saskatchewan had nine hits including five in a four-run third inning to come away with a 7-0 win over Ontario to book their ticket to the Canada Games gold medal game. Saskatchewan will be playing in their third consecutive championship contest at the 17U level after winning the Baseball Canada Cup in 2016 while settling for silver in 2015. Saskatchewan starter Connor Sparks tossed five shutout innings scattering four hits and three walks while striking out three batters. Ryan Olchoway came on in relief and threw two perfect frames with one strikeout to preserve the shutout. Sparks was also a factor at the plate as his 2-for-3 game at the plate included a triple and RBI while Olchoway and Tyler McWillie drove in two runs each.
QF: Ontario 3 BC 1 - Zach McQuaid went the distance and struck out eight to lead Ontario to a 3-1 win over BC to advance to the semi finals. McQuaid scattered five hits including a solo home run to Jayden Knight in the fifth but that was his only blemish in a winning effort. Ontario benefitted from a bases-loaded hit by pitch by BC starter Declan Dutton in the third before Noah London drove in a pair with two out to put Ontario in front, 3-0. Dutton pitched six innings and fanned four but took the loss for BC.
In placement games, New Brunswick defeated Newfoundland & Labrador, 7-6 in eight innings, to claim ninth place while it took extras for Nova Scotia to get by PEI, 6-5, in the seventh place game.
Live Stream: http://sportscanada.tv/canadagames/2017baseball