Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
August 27, 2017, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Burnaby Bulldogs (Team BC) exploded for six runs in the top of the ninth, highlighted by a grand-slam home run from Jeff Bouchard, to take a 7-1 decision over the Red Deer Riggers (Alberta 2) in semi-final action at the 2017 Baseball Canada Senior Men’s National Championship Sunday morning at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria.
The Bulldogs will now go for Championship gold at 7:00 PM Sunday night against either the Sherwood Park A’s or the Fredericton Royals, who play in the second semi-final on Sunday at ~12:30 pm, also at Royal Athletic Park.
The game was an intense and classic pitching duel between Red Deer’s Josh Edwards and Burnaby’s Shawn Schaefer who both mowed through the opposing line-ups with little difficulty, save for a run off Shaefer by the Riggers in the fourth inning and one by the Bulldogs off Edwards in the fifth.
Red Deer’s run came when leadoff hitter Jason Chatwood singled to start the fourth and eventually came in to score on a two-out single from Kerry Boon. The Bulldogs responded in similar fashion in the top of the fifth, when Bouchard led off the inning with a triple to the right-centre gap and then scored on a Tyler Yorko sacrifice fly.
The Bulldogs would threaten in the top of the eighth when Edwards would begin to run out of gas, walking Burnaby’s Kyle McComb and James Zamko to begin the frame. They would be moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt from Braydon Munro and after a two-out intentional walk to Bouchard to load the bases, Edwards got out of trouble by inducing Yorko to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the frame.
The Riggers used the momentum from that defensive stand to get things going in the bottom of the eighth, as Curtis Mazurkewich would double to lead off the inning and Denver Wik would be hit by Shaefer to put runners on first and second. Joel Mazurkewich would then move both into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt and after an intentional walk to Jason Chatwood loaded the bases, JP Willner would ground into a 5-2-3 double play and the Bulldogs would escape to play in the ninth.
In the ninth, Burnaby’s Jon Thomas would reach base on a one-out error and then Sean Hotzak would single to put runners on first and second. Kyle McComb would walk to load the bases, spelling the end for Edwards, who gave way to reliever Dustin Northcott.
Northcott would be greeted by James Zamko, who bounced a high hopper to third that Jaret Chatwood could not handle, scoring Thomas and putting the Bulldogs up 2-1. The Bulldog’s Munro then drew a bases-loaded walk and after a strikeout to Webster, Bouchard launched a 3-2 count, grand slam home run over the left field fence to open the Burnaby lead to 7-1.
Shaefer would then come out and retire a discouraged Red Deer side 1-2-3 to get the complete game win, finishing his nine innings with eight strikeouts and sending the Bulldogs to the final.