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Napanee beaten in high-scoring affair at Canadian junior fastball

August 12, 2014

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

Napanee Express became re-acquainted with a couple of familiar faces Monday night.

It didn’t go well.

Greg Hammell had three hits and Michael Legace-Root retired the last seven men in a row to clinch a 10-9 victory for the Owen Sound Selects at the Canadian junior fastball championship in Irma, Alta.

An unearned run in the bottom of the sixth inning was the difference, as Napanee slipped to 1-1 at the nine-team tournament. The Express began play Monday with a 13-0 win over Newfoundland.

Hammell played with Napanee last year at the national championship, but this time he drove in three runs, two of them with a two-out double in the third inning that stopped a budding Napanee rout in its tracks.

Legace-Root, like Hammell a righthanded pitcher from New Hamburg, Ont., played last year for Wiarton in the Canadian championship, and gained the pitching win over Napanee in the gold-medal game.

This time, he struck out five of the last seven batters he faced, and got the other two on infield pop-ups, to preserve the one-run victory.

Owen Sound scored the game’s first run and the lead changed hands twice in the next three innings as Napanee jumped ahead 5-1, fell behind 9-5, and tied the game with four runs in the top of the fifth.

A two-out, two-run single by Braden Scott gave the Express a 2-1 lead in the top of the second inning and in the third a lead-off single by Cole Bolton, back-to-back triples by Taylor Brown and Ty Sebastian and a double by Cody Brooks—all before anyone was out—made it look as if the Express was on its way to another easy victory.

Hammell, the Owen Sound starter, wriggled out of that jam and his double got Owen Sound back into the game in the home half of the inning. He delivered another run with a two-out single in the Selects’ six-run fourth. Before Napanee reliever Erick Morgan could get the final out, Craig Lyons hit an 0-2 pitch for a run-scoring single and Fraser Urquhart hit a 3-2 pitch for a two-run double that gave Owen Sound a 9-5 lead.

In the top of the fifth, Jarrett Williams followed Sloan Creighton’s lead-off single with a home run for Napanee. Hammell was replaced by Legace-Root and at first the Express was unimpressed, as Tyson Zehr, Michael Jordan and Cole Bolton all singled and Brown doubled in the tying run.

Brooks struck out with runners on second and third to end the inning, however, and Napanee never got another man on base.

The winning run came in the bottom of the sixth. Cody Werner singled for Owen Sound and one out later Legace-Root singled. Craig Lyons hit a ball that was misplayed in left field by Zehr, allowing Werner to score. Legace-Root was thrown out, however, and Express escaped without further damage.

Every batter in the Napanee lineup hit safely, with Bolton, Brown and Williams each collecting two hits.

Legace-Root, playing in his third national championship, won his second game of the day to improve his lifetime mark to 14-4. He ended last year’s tournament with a 1.61 earned-run average and 169 strikeouts in 91 innings lifetime.

He struck out 15 in eight innings Monday.

Stratford, Owen Sound and the host Irma Tigers all emerged with 2-0 records from the first day of play, one in which seven of the nine games ended early under the parameters of the mercy rule.

One of those mercy-shortened games was Napanee’s 13-0 win Monday morning over the Kelly’s Pub team from St. John’s, NL. The Express exploded for seven runs in the second inning and invoked the mercy rule after five.

Scott, Sebastian, Brandon Blunt, Jordan and Brett Irwin had three hits apiece in a 21-hit Napanee attack in support of Bolton, who allowed just one hit, struck out six and walked two.

The only hit Bolton allowed was a one-out single by Tyler Wells in the fifth inning.

Seven of the first eight Napanee batters in the second inning hit safely. The Express sent 11 men to the plate, and did all the damage with the benefit of just one extra-base hit, a double by Sebastian.

Jordan Mills belted a two-run home run in the third inning for the Express.

Linescores

Napanee         023     040     0          —        9          12       2
Owen Sound  102     601     x          —        10       12       1

Brandon Sands, Erick Morgan (4), Cole Bolton (L,1-1) (5) and Cody Brooks; Greg Hammell, Michael Legace-Root (W,2-0) (5) and Craig Lyons. HR: Nap — Jarrett Williams (1).

Napanee         073     30       —        13       21       0

Newfoundland          000     00       —        0          1          0

Cole Bolton (W,1-0) and Cody Brooks; Joel Whelan (L,0-1) and Ryan King. HR: Nap — Jordan Mills (1).

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