Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart – ISN

Victoria, BC (ISN) – A Sean Gramlich grand slam home run propelled the Carnarvon Riverdawgs to a 5-run 5th inning and a come from behind 7-4 win over the Esquimalt Mariners in the Greater Victoria Baseball Association’s (GVBA) Pee Wee Championship Tuesday night at Carnarvon Park in Victoria.

The home team Riverdawgs found themselves in trouble early in the game, as Esquimalt’s Josh Walker and Jason Willow led off the game with back-to-back hits off of Carnarvon starter Nick Downer and both came around to score to give the Mariners an early 2-0 lead.

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Esquimalt’s Jason Willow slides safely into third as the ball gets away from Carnarvon’s Jack Kyne during first inning action (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

The Riverdawgs would threaten in the bottom of the inning, as Joe Stafford-Veale led off with a solid single off of Mariner starter Willow and would move around to third following a couple of walks that loaded the bases. That would be as far as he would get though, as Willow would end the threat with a big strikeout to keep the lead 2-0.

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Esquimalt’s Jason Willow was right on the mark early in the game, allowing one run on just one hit while striking out 10 in his 4 innings of work (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN).

The ‘Dawgs were wishing they had capitalized in that inning, because for the next three innings, Willow was unhittable, striking out the side in the 2nd and 3rd innings, and striking out two more in the 4th. Willow’s only blemish in those three innings were two walks in the 4th, one of which came in to score on an RBI ground out by Hugh Davidson to get the ‘Dawgs on the board.

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The Riverdawg’s Sebastian Wicke, (left), Jeremy Restall (centre) and Eric Johnson (right), all fell victim to Jason Willow in the 2nd inning (Photos by Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

Meantime, the Mariners were giving Willow some additional run support, pushing one across in the 3rd and another in the top of the 4th on a beautifully executed squeeze-play, and after the Carnarvon run in that inning, held a 4-1 lead heading into the 5th.

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The Mariner’s Thomas Brandwood scampers home with Esquimalt’s 4th run on a suicide squeeze play (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

In the top of the inning, Carnarvon’s Downer began the inning by striking out the first two batters, but then gave up a triple to Walker. That was all for Downer, as he was near the Pee Wee maximum daily pitch limit of 75 pitches, and he was removed in favour of lefty reliever Stafford-Veale.

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Esquimalt’s Josh Walker, who would triple here, had a pair of hits and scored two runs for the Mariners in the final (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

The move paid off well, as Stafford-Veale battled the Mariner’s Willow in a classic confrontation of two of each team’s top players, with Stafford-Veale winning this one, striking out Willow on three pitches.

That out, plus the fact that Willow also had to come out of the game due to the pitch count limit, gave the Riverdawgs some much needed confidence to start the 5th inning and it paid off big time.

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Carnarvon’s Joe Stafford-Veale would come on in relief to get the win, retiring 6 of the 8 batters he faced (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

Sebastian Wicke started the rally by drawing a walk from Esquimalt reliever Jack Mulcahy. Jeremy Restall followed this up with a hit and a subsequent throwing error allowed Wicke to score, making it 4-2 Mariners. Another Mariner error would then allow Restall to score and the ‘Dawgs had pulled to within one at 4-3.

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Carnarvon’s Will Hazell-Penaluna slides safely into third ahead of the tag by Esquimalt third baseman Reed Oulet (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

Mulcahy would continue to struggle and after two more walks and a single loaded the bases, Sean Gramlich launched a 1-0 fastball over the left field fence for a grand slam home run to put the ‘Dawgs up 7-4. However because GVBA Pee Wee rules only allow a maximum of 5 runs per inning to be scored, the score reversed back to a 6-4 lead for Carnarvon.

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Sean Gramlich watches as his 5th inning grand-slam sails over the left field fence (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

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Sean Gramlich (red helmet, right) is mobbed by his teammates at home plate after his 5th inning grand-slam (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

That would still be plenty for the ‘Dawgs, as Stafford Veale would get some nice defensive help in the top of the 6th to keep the Mariners off the board, as well as an insurance run in the bottom of the inning, as Downer launched a solo home-run over the right-centre fence to restore the 7-4 lead.

In the top of the 7th, facing the bottom part of the Mariner line-up, Stafford Veal had no trouble at all, striking out the first two batters and getting the third to ground out, preserving the win for the ‘Dawgs and giving them the 2012 Pee Wee Championship.

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The 2012 GVBA Pee Wee Champion Carnarvon Riverdawgs (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN)