Alberta’s Kunkel, Rattai cap comeback

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* The night ended at the Rogers Centre the way the day began 12 hours earlier … except rather than teams walking into the ball park Alberta Red walked off with a 6-5 win over Prairies Purple. ….

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Alberta Red vs. Prairies Purple
By Mitchell Machtinger
Zack Kunkel singled home the winning run and Nolan Rattai hit a solo homer as Alberta Red rallied to beat Prairies Purple 6-5 in the final contest of day one in Tournament 12 at Rogers Centre on Wednesday.

Trailing 5-4, Tyler Scott walked and stole second to start the bottom of the seventh inning. Kobe Hyland brought Scott home as the tying run with a double to left and Hyland then scored the winner on Kunkel’s base hit to centre field.

“I was talking to one of the (Blue Jays) alumni and he told me to ‘think to hit over the shortstop,’ so I was just trying to hit it opposite field and drive in a run,” said Hyland of his game-tying RBI. “It felt pretty great. We needed that win to solidify our chances of playing in the playoffs so it felt really, really good.”

Rattai hit a solo home run for Alberta (1-1) in the bottom of the sixth to cut the lead to 5-3. After a Nikolas Cardinal triple to centre field, he was brought home on an RBI ground out making it a one run game.

Rattai was in amazement on the biggest hit of his career.

“The adrenaline was pumping, it was just kind of an ‘I didn’t believe it happened’ kind of thing,” said Rattai. “It’s a great feeling, there nothing better than a walk-off win. Coming from behind, it’s just no better feeling.”

For a while it looked like Prairies was going to run away with the game.

After a Dylan Flasch walk and a Ben Komonosky single to left, right fielder Troy Blad hit a sharp grounder up the first base line, scoring Flasch from second and putting Prairies Purple up 1-0.

Alberta Red pitcher Scott Gillespie then uncorked wild pitches to successive batters, putting two more runs on the board for Purple (1-1). They would finish the top of the fifth with a 5-0 lead.

Alberta replied with two runs in the bottom of the fifth after a throwing error on a fielder’s choice by shortstop Brett Resch.

Nick Vickers (1-0) came on in relief in the sixth inning for Alberta Red, promptly striking out the side.

Starting pitcher BJ Moen didn’t surrender a hit to Alberta until the bottom of the third, his last inning, when Scott hit a single that dropped into shallow right. Alberta Red’s starter, Andrew Grieder, found similar success, striking out six and allowing only one hit through three innings of work.

Prairies Purple looked to score early, however left all three base runners stranded in the top of the first inning. In the bottom half, Moen made quick work of the top of the order, getting his three outs in only four pitches.

In the top of the second inning, Prairies Purple again looked poised to get some runs but left the bases loaded after a Komonosky fly out to centre field.

Alberta Red takes on Quebec Blue at 1 p.m. Thursday, while Prairies Purple host Ontario Black at 6 p.m.

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