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Napanee still alive at Canadian junior fastball tournament

August 16, 2014

Napanee remains alive at the Canadian junior fastball championship in Irma, Alta. — barely.

The Express defeated the Stratford Cubs 12-11 Saturday afternoon in what was an elimination game for both teams on the penultimate day of the national tournament. It did so despite giving up two runs in the top of the seventh inning.

With the tying run on first and two out, Express pitcher Cole Bolton got Johnny Baker, a .520 hitter during the round-robin portion of the competition, to ground out to end the game.

Napanee will advance to play the winner of Saturday afternoon’s match between Newfoundland and the Saskatoon Diamondbacks. That game will be played at 9:30 p.m. EDT, with the winner advancing to a semifinal Sunday and a chance to play for a medal.

There were three lead changes after Stratford opened scoring with a run in the top of the third inning. The Express trailed 4-2 when it scored five times in the bottom of the fourth and the lead was 10-5 when Stratford got back into the game with four runs in the top of the sixth.

A two-run home run by Cody Brooks put Napanee ahead 12-9 going into the seventh inning and it turned out the Express needed every bit of that insurance, as the Cubs scored twice to make the game far more interesting than the Napanee coaching staff would have liked.

Corey Tuffnail led off with a double and he scored on a single by Tyler Randerson, who scored on a sacrifice fly by Barry Eidt. That was the first out of the inning and one out later, the last of Stratford’s 13 base-hits put the tying run on first, before Bolton finally prevailed.

A two-out walk opened the door for Stratford’s three-run fourth. Before the inning ended Eidt had doubled and Tyler Pauli had belted a two-run home run. The Express responded emphatically, with two-run homers from Tyson Zehr and Taylor Brown highlighting a five-run outburst that gave Napanee the lead for good.

Tom Fischer’s lead-off home run in the top of the fifth was answered by a lead-off homer by Brooks that launched a three-run rally in the bottom of the inning. With two out, singles by Zehr and Brandon Sands, sandwiched around a double by Sloan Creighton, produced the other runs.

Eidt homered for Stratford in the top of the sixth, as the Cubs manufactured three more runs from two singles, a walk, a passed ball, a wild pitch and George Armstrong’s triple. That’s when Bolton entered the game in relief of Sands.

Brooks’ home run in the sixth followed a lead-off walk to Ty Sebastian. They were the first two home runs of the tournament for Brooks, who missed the middle part of the week with a foot injury.

He hit three home runs for Napanee in the playoff round of last year’s event, when the Express came home with the silver medals.

Sands had three hits for Napanee, while Pauli had three for Stratford, the team Napanee beat in the final of the Ontario elimination tournament. Armstrong struck out 10 in the losing pitching effort.

Linescore

Stratford        001     314     2          —        11       13       1

Napanee         002     532     x          —        12       12       0

George Armstrong (L,3-3), Tyler Randerson (6) and Tom Fischer; Brandon Sands (W,2-0), Cole Bolton (6) and Cody Brooks. HRs: Sfd — Tyler Pauli (3), Tom Fischer (3), Barry Eidt (1); Nap — Tyson Zehr (3), Taylor Brown (3), Cody Brooks 2 (2).

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