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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

May 19, 2014, Victoria, BC (ISN) – A five run sixth inning broke open a close game and propelled the Nanaimo Coal Miners to an eventual 7-2 win over the Burnaby Bulldogs in the championship final of the 2014 Doug Conn Senior Men’s Memorial Baseball Tournament Monday afternoon at Lambrick Park in Victoria.

Burnaby baserunner Ed Welch slides safely into second as Nanaimo second baseman Dallas Monk awaits the throw (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

That the Coal Miners and Bulldogs were both in the final to begin with was a bit of a surprise, and both teams can thank the small tournament format, where all four teams made the playoffs, for that.

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Nanaimo’s towering Nick Salahub, all 6’8″ of him, would strike out 13 Burnaby batters Monday en route to the 7-2 Coal Miners victory (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The Coal Miners, who went 0-3 in the round-robin portion of the tournament, won when it mattered, defeating the 3-0 Victoria Mavericks in the first semi-final Sunday evening by a score of 4-1. Similarly for the Bulldogs, they managed just an 11-2 win over Nanaimo in the round-robin and then came up against the powerful Langley Blaze in the semis. The Blaze thumped the Bulldogs 14-0 in their round-robin match-up, but it would be the Bulldogs getting revenge in the semi’s, turning the tables and earning a 2-0 win to advance to the finals.

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Nanaimo catcher Jordan Blundell comes up throwing to first after fielding a short ground ball in Monday’s game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

On Monday afternoon the Bulldogs sent left-handed pitcher Shawn Schaefer to the hill, while the Coal Miners answered with towering 6’8″ right-hander Nick Salahub. Both pitchers did what was asked of them over the first five innings of the game, allowing just a single run each in what was a solid pitching duel to that point.

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Burnaby pitcher Shawn Schaefer would keep the Nanaimo hitters at bay until the wheels came off in the sixth inning (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The Bulldogs would get on the board first in the bottom of the first inning as leadoff hitter Ed Welch would single and eventually come in to score on an RBI-double from Connor Jones.

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Burnaby’s Connor Jones would launch this RBI-double in the bottom of the first to give the Bulldogs an early 1-0 lead (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The Coal Miners would answer that in the top of the third inning. Catcher Jordan Blundell would lead the inning off with a single and then later come in to score on an RBI single from centre fielder Greg Brady.

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Nanaimo’s Greg Brady starts to first after this RBI single in the top of the third inning (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The 1-1 score would hold until the top of the sixth inning, when the Coal Miners would break the game wide open. Cody Pendergast would get the rally going when he stroked a 1-out double to centre. After Schaefer struck out the next batter, disaster struck and after a pair of singles from Aidan Goodall and Jackson McQuaig, one of which scored Pendergast, and a hit batter, Schaefer left the game with the bases loaded, hoping reliever Jordan Padrinoa could pick him up.

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Nanaimo’s Aidan Goodall watches his RBI single head to right field in the top of the sixth. Goodall’s hit would score the first of 5 Coal Miner runs in the inning (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The Coal Miner’s Tyler Ulrich had other plans however and he would launch a bases clearing 3-RBI double to the wall to put the Coal Miners up 5-1. Another RBI-single from Adam Guitierrez would make it 6-1 before the inning ended.

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This 2-out, 3 RBI double by Nanaimo’s Tyler Ulrich would break up a close 2-1 game and propel the Coal Miners on to their 7-2 win (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

A solo home run from Burnaby’s Carter Sherban to lead off the bottom of the sixth would cut the lead to 6-2, but that would be all the scoring the Bulldogs would do and with an insurance run in the top of the seventh added to the Coal Miner’s totals, Salahub took to the mound in the bottom of the inning and promptly struck out the side, his 11th, 12th and 13th strikeouts of the day, to close out the 7-2 win.

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Nanaimo catcher Jordan Blundell congratulates pitcher Nick Salahub on his complete game 7-2 win over Burnaby (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)