Red Deer, Sherwood Park, Burnaby, Fredericton Advance to Baseball Canada Men’s National Semi-Finals

New Brunswick’s Mike Washburn (5) prepares to be mobbed by his teammates after hitting a two-run walk off home run to defeat Mississauga 5-4 in quarter-final action Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart

August 26, 2017, Victoria, BC – After a busy Saturday of play, it will be the Red Deer Riggers (Alberta 2), Sherwood Park A’s (Alberta 1), Burnaby Bulldogs (British Columbia) and Fredericton Royals (New Brunswick) playing for medals on semi-final Sunday at the 2017 Baseball Canada Senior Men’s National Championships at Royal Athletic Park (RAP) in Victoria.

Mike Washburn heads to home after hitting the game winning home run against Mississauga in quarter-final action Saturday night (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Those four teams advanced following a 21-game round robin and two quarter-final games played at RAP and Lambrick Park over the last three days.

The Sherwood Park A’s were the first team to advance directly to Sunday’s semi-finals, as they started the tournament with a perfect 3-0 record and as such, clinched first in Pool B on Friday. They lost their final round robin game to Dartmouth 8-2 on Saturday morning, which gave Dartmouth some temporary playoff hope, but did not impact the A’s status at all.

Michael Cardinale (24) is greeted by his team after hitting a three-run homer that gave the Twins a 3-2 lead over New Brunswick in quarter-final action Saturday night (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Sherwood Park will now play the Fredericton Royals, who after suffering their first loss to Red Deer in the morning, were on the verge of going home, but then received a dramatic two-run, walk-off home run from Mike Washburn in the bottom of the seventh inning to defeat the Mississauga SW Twins 5-4 in Saturday night’s final second quarter-final game.

The Royals used some good defence to stay close to the Twins in the second quarter-final on Saturday, here turning a key double play (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

The Twins, who advanced to the quarter-final as the Pool B third place seed after getting a big 9-4 win over Newfoundland Saturday morning, were in a position to knock off the Royals, thanks in part to a Michael Cardinale three -run homer and took a 4-3 lead into the last inning only to watch as the Royals took the win out from underneath them.

Fredericton’s Jay Johnson went the distance in Saturday night’s quarter-final, giving up the 4 Twins runs on seven hits while striking out six (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

The Red Deer Riggers were the second team to advance Saturday after a big 4-2 win over previously unbeaten Fredericton in a morning game gave them first place in Pool B. They will now play the Burnaby Bulldogs in a 9:00 am semi-final at RAP on Sunday.

The Bulldogs had a monster day to advance to the semis, first destroying Newfoundland 22-1 in their final round robin game to clinch second in Pool B and then keeping their bats going in Saturday’s first quarter-final, sending two-time defending champion Tecumseh Thunder (Ontario 1) home with a 11-2 loss. The Thunder had advanced to the quarter-finals thanks to their 3-2 win over Manitoba earlier in the day Saturday.

In a cloud of dirt and dust, Burnaby’s Braeden Allemann reaches for home plate to score the Bulldog’s fourth run of the game in the 11-3 win over Tecumseh in Saturday’s first quarter-final (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

The host Victoria Mavericks ended the tournament on a high note, getting a walk-off win Friday night and then needing extra innings on Saturday to defeat Manitoba 11-7 to finish with a record of 2-2. The Mavericks tied for third in their pool, but failed to advance as Tecumseh defeated the Mavericks earlier in head-to-head action.

Burnaby pitcher Dan Altoe went the distance for the win in Saturday’s first quarter-final, giving up the three Tecumseh runs on nine scattered hits in the 11-3 Bulldogs win (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Manitoba, who earlier Saturday, dropped a close 3-2 decision to the Thunder, finished the tournament 0-4, as did Newfoundland.

Game capsules from all of Saturday’s action, including the two playoff games can be found below:

Game 15 – Mississauga Twins (Ontario 2) – 9 Gonzaga Vikings (NFLD) – 4
The Mississauga SW Twins (Ontario 2) jumped out to a 3-0 lead and carried on to a 9-4 win over the Gonzaga Vikings (Newfoundland) in Saturday morning action at Royal Athletic Park. The win keeps the Twins playoff hopes alive, but eliminates Newfoundland from further contention in Pool B. The Twins were led by leadoff hitter Troy Black who went four for four at the plate with two doubles and three runs scored. Cam Graham also had a two hit day with an RBI, as did Michael Cardinale, while Mitchell Roy added a two-run home-run for good measure. Newfoundland’s Mike O’Neil had a two-hit day with an RBI and a run scored, while Peter Madden had a hit and pair of RBIs in the losing effort. Twins pitcher Craig Steadman gets the win, going five innings and giving up four runs on five hits, while waking one and striking out three. Alex Walsh, takes the complete game loss for the Vikings.

Mississauga’s leadoff hitter Troy Black went four for four at the plate with two doubles and three runs scored in the Twins Saturday morning win over Newfoundland (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Game 16 – Tecumseh Thunder (Ontario 1) – 3 Manitoba – 2
The two-time defending champion Tecumseh Thunder (Ontario 1) kept their playoff hopes alive with a tense 3-2 win over Manitoba in Saturday morning action at Lambrick Park in Victoria. Keifer Quick’s single in the top of the sixth inning scored Mitch Delaney, who led off with a double, and provided the Thunder with the margin of victory. Shane Courtney gets the complete game win for the Thunder holding Manitoba to two runs on nine hits, while walking one and striking out 10. Scott Dyck had three of those hits for Manitoba, including a pair of doubles, while Mike Mutcheson added a pair of hits including a home run. Shayne Turk also had a two-hit game for Manitoba in the losing effort. Travis Friesen takes the loss in relief for Manitoba.

Game 17 – Dartmouth (NS) – 8 Sherwood Park (AB1) – 2
The Dartmouth Moosehead Dry (Nova Scotia) kept their tournament playoff hopes alive with a 8-2 win over the Sherwood Park A’s (Alberta 1) in 11:00 am action at Royal Athletic Park. Dartmouth’s win improves their record to 2-2 and moves them into a tie with the 2-2 Mississauga Twins for third in Pool B. Jake Pelham did the bulk of the offensive damage for Dartmouth with three hits, the biggest being a three-run home run, and scoring three times. Anthony McKinley also had a hit and an RBI and walked twice. Dartmouth starter Codey Shrider was effective through a complete game’s worth of work, scattering seven hits, his only real damage being a Mark Kuzyk solo home run in the bottom of the fifth for the A’s first run of the game. Cole Schneider and Andy Sherman also had two hits each for the A’s in the losing effort. Alberta’s Greg Hollman takes the loss for the A’s.

Dartmouth shortstop Davey Wallace turns the double play against Sherwood Park in Saturday morning action. The Moosehead would win the game 8-2 but miss qualifying for the playoff rounds (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Game 18 – Red Deer Riggers (AB2) – 4 Fredericcton Royals (NB) – 2
The Red Deer Riggers assured themselves of a first place finish in Pool A with a 4-2 win over the hard-hitting Fredericton Royals (New Brunswick) in 11:00 am game action at Lambrick Park. Red Deer received a stellar pitching performance from Ben Runyon, who went the distance and limited the powerful Fredericton offence to just two hits on the day, while walking just two and striking out eight. He was helped by an offence that got to New Brunswick starter Shaun O’Toole, who was tagged with the loss, for four runs on five hits, with Joel Mazurkewich and Jason Chatwood chipping in two of those each. JP Willner also added a double and pair of RBIs, while Jason Louis added a double and RBI to the winning effort. The Riggers now advance into Sunday’s 9:00 am semi-final at Royal Athletic Park. Fredericton advances to the Saturday night 8:00 pm quarter-final at Royal Athletic Park.

The Mavericks Griffin Andreychuk turns a double play against Manitoba Saturday. The Mav’s would win 11-7 to finish 2-2 for the Tournament but miss qualifying for the playoffs (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Game 19 – Victoria Mavericks (Host) – 11 Manitoba – 7
The Victoria Mavericks (host) scored four runs in the top of the seventh inning and then did it all over again in an extra, top of the eighth inning, to overcome a 4-2 early deficit and defeat Manitoba 11-7 in the final game for both teams at the 2017 tournament. The Mavericks finish 2-2 and tied with Tecumseh for third in Pool A, but do not advance, as Tecumseh defeated the Mavericks in their head to head game. Manitoba finishes 0-4. The Mavericks were led offensively by Liam Goodall who stroked a three-run home run in that four run ninth, finishing with three hits and six RBI on the day. Lanny Burrows had a pair of hits and an RBI, with Connor Moughtin and Bobby Scott also chipping in a pair of hits and pair runs scored and Kevin Biro stroking a solo home run in the winning effort. Manitoba, who forced the game to extra innings with a three-run home run from Brendan Gaunt in the bottom of the seventh, held a 4-2 led early thanks in part to a two-run home run from Nick Drews. Mike Mutcheson and Kiel Armstrong also had two-hit days for Manitoba in the losing effort. Mitch Davidoff gets the win in relief for the Mavericks, while Travis Friesen is tagged with the loss for Manitoba.

Victoria’s Liam Goodall would have a three-hit and six RBI day, with a three-run homer, in the Mavericks win over Manitoba Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Game 20 – Burnaby Bulldogs (BC) – 22 Gonzaga Vikings (Newfoundland) – 1
The Burnaby Bulldogs (British Columbia) secured second place in Pool B in emphatic fashion Saturday afternoon, pounding the Gonzaga Vikings (Newfondland and Labrador) 22-1 at Lambric Park. Eight different players had multi-hit games for the Bulldogs, including a home run from Tyler Yorko, triples from Scott Webster and Jeff Bouchard and a pair of doubles from James Zamko. Yorko and Bouchard also chipped in four RBI each. Newfoundland managed just three hits on the day, only one off Burnaby starter Jamie Whitehead, who went three innings striking out five. Newfoundland starter David Lahey had a game he will likley want to forget, giving up 12 runs (only 6 earned) on 11 hits in just 2.2 innings of work. Burnaby now advances to play the Tecumseh Thunder (Ontario 1) in the 5:00 pm semi-final at Royal Athletic Park, with the winner of that game moving to Sunday’s semi-finals against Red Deer at 9:00 am.

Game 21 – Quarter-Final 1 – Burnaby Bulldogs (BC) – 11 Tecumseh Thunder (ON1) – 3
The Burnaby Bulldogs broke open a tight game with a five-run outburst in the bottom of the fourth inning and then kept the ball rolling to emerge with a 11-3 win over the two-time defending National champion Tecumseh Thunder in Saturday’s first quarter-final at Royal Athletic Park. The Bulldogs were led by Braydon Munro who had a monster day at the plate with a home run, triple, two doubles, five RBI and three runs scored. Justin Orton also contributed three hits to the cause, while Braeden Allemann and Jeff Bouchard added two hits each. Burnaby pitcher Dan Altoe went the distance for the win, giving up the three Tecumseh runs on nine scattered hits, three of which came off the bat of the Thunder’s Brandon Gignac. Eric Cunningham and Mitch Delaney also had a pair of hits each, including a home run by Delaney in the seventh. Joel Pierce takes the loss for the Thunder, giving up seven runs on 10 hits over 3.2 innings of work. The Bulldogs now advance to play in Sunday’s first semi-final against the Red Deer Riggers at 9:00 am at Royal Athletic Park.

Burnaby’s Braydon Munro had a monster day at the plate in the quarter-final against Tecumseh, with a home run, triple, two doubles, five RBI and three runs scored (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Game 22 – Quarter-Final 2    Fredericton Royals (NB) – 5      Mississauga SW Twins (ON2) – 4

Fredericton’s Mike Washburn drilled the first pitch he saw from Mississauga reliever Tomas Rincon over the right-field fence for a two-run home run to give the Royals a dramatic 5-4, walk-off win over the Twins in quarter-final action Saturday night at Royal Athletic Park.  The Royals had jumped into an early 2-0 lead, but the Twins, who nearly pulled off the upset of the tournament, had gone into the lead thanks to a three-run fourth inning home run from Michael Cardinale and a RBI double from Brendan Emmett in the fifth.  The Royals got one back in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI double from Devan Thomas to set up the drama in the seventh.  Washburn’s blast makes a winner of starter Jay Johnson who went the distance, giving up the 4 Twins runs on seven hits while striking out six.  Rincon takes the loss in relief of Twins starter Tyer Annett, who went six complete, giving up three runs on even hits while walking two and striking out four.  The Royals now advance to take on the Sherwood Park A’s in Sunday’s second semi-final at 12 Noon at Royal Athletic Park.

Fredericton Royals first base coach Bill Saunders celebrates his team’s walk-off win over Mississauga in quarter-final action on Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

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