Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
August 27, 2017, Victoria, BC (ISN) – Fredericton’s Mike Washburn played the hero again Sunday afternoon, stroking an RBI-double in the top of the ninth inning, his third RBI of the day, to score Blake Gallagher with what turned out to be the winning run in the Royals 7-5 extra-inning win over the Sherwood Park A’s (Alberta 1) in semi-final action at the 2017 Baseball Canada Senior Men’s National Championship Sunday afternoon at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria.
The Royals (Team New Brunswick) will now meet the Burnaby Bulldogs (Team BC) in an east coast versus west coast battle for the Championship at 7:00 PM Sunday night at Royal Athletic Park. Prior to that, Sherwood Park and the Red Deer Riggers will play a battle of Alberta in the Bronze Medal game at 4:15 pm.
Sunday’s second semi-final, much like the first was another tight pitching match-up, this time between Sherwood Park’s Donovan Feenstra and Fredericton’s Shane Kraemer. Feenstra was superb throught the first four innings, giving up just a single run on two hits, while striking out nine, with his only mistake to that point being a solo home run to Fredericton’s Devan Thomas in the third.
Kreaemer would be equally as effective over that time frame, limiting the A’s to five scattered hits and relying more on his defence for outs, only striking out two.
The high powered Royals offence would break things open a bit off Feenstra in the fifth. After a leadoff walk and two more strikeouts, David Crossman would single and Blake Gallagher would walk to load the bases. Dave Barr would then hit a chopper to third that the A’s third baseman could not handle, scoring Jeff Watkin and putting the Royals up 2-0.
Washburn, Saturday night’s quarter-final hero, would then stroke a two-RBI double to left-centre and the Royals had extended their lead to 4-0 and just like that, had put Feenstra, who finished with 11 strikeouts, out of the game.
The A’s would answer back in the bottom of the fifth when Mark Kuzyk would draw a leadoff walk from Kraemer and come in to score on a Cody Pendergast single. Lance Romanchuk would then reach on a fielder’s choice, Drew Miller would single, and Greg Wallace was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Cole Schneider who popped out to first. A walk to Cory Scammell would push the score to 4-2, but that would be all the A’s could muster, as they left the bases loaded when Andy Herman would fly out to left to end the threat.
The Royals would get those runs back in the top of the sixth, as Corey Wood would leadoff with a double off A’s reliever Matthew Hammond. Jeff Watkin would then walk and Wood would then come all the way in to score on an throwing error on a bunt attempt by Jay Johnson. Thomas would then be hit by a pitch, ending Hammonds day. Justin Cormier would then ground into a field’s choice off reliever James Fischer, and then Fischer would strike out Blake Gallagher and get Dave Barr to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the inning and keep the Royals lead at 5-2.
The A’s would keep battling in the bottom of the sixth, getting a leadoff double from Jeremy Harasymchuk and then two straight errors on ground balls by Fredericton third baseman Mark Phillips to load the bases. A Lance Romanchuk sacrifice fly would cut the lead to 5-3 and then a Drew Miller walk re-loaded the bases and spelled the end of the day for Fredericton’s Kraemer.
Reliever Sam Lund was then greeted by Greg Wallace who blooped a two-RBI single over second to tie the game 5-5. Cole Schneider singled to load the bases again, but Lund would strike out Cory Scammell and get Andy Hermann to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the threat and send the game to the seventh tied 5-5.
The A’s Fischer and the Royals Lund would then carry the game into the ninth, where in the top of the inning, Gallagher would lead things off with a single and move to second on a sacrifice bunt. Washburn would then double him home to put the Royals up 6-5 and then come home himself later on a sacrifice fly from Watkin to add an insurance run.
It would not be needed however, as the Royals went to closer Shawn Reid, who retired the A’s without incident to close out the 7-5 win.
Washburn led the Royals attack with two of their nine hits and three RBI, while Wood and Watkin added two hits each. Greg Wallace had a pair of hits and two RBI for the A’s in the losing effort.
Lund gets the win in relief for the Royals, while Reid picks up the save. Fischer gets tagged with the loss for the A’s.