Inverness denied N.S. Int. A baseball title in 3-2 final
It was a weekend to remember, and one to forget, for the Inverness Athletics at the Nova Scotia Intermediate A baseball championship in Sydney Mines.
Two plays at the plate secured a 2-1 win for Inverness over Cole Harbour on Saturday during Int. A provincial baseball action, including this play on a throw from Ryan MacDonnell in left field to catcher Mark Copley, who put the tag on the leaping runner.
Leading 2-1 in the top of the fifth inning of Sunday’s championship game against the Little Anse Hawks, the A’s gave up a run in the bottom of the fifth, and another in the sixth to lose 3-2 to Hawks.
“Regardless of the outcome, we played a great weekend of ball,” said Inverness coach Russell Copley. “There is nothing different that we could have done and our guys couldn’t have played any better than they did in this tournament.”
All three Cape Breton teams, including the host Sydney Mines Ramblers, boasted 3-0 records after the round-robin. The three mainland teams in the six-team tourney went 0-3.
Both Inverness and Little Anse improved to 4-0 after winning their respective semifinal games on Sunday morning, setting up a sizzling final between the two undefeated teams.
James Doyle took the mound for Inverness, picking up after leaving off the semfinal game with one-inning of relief for a 2-1 win over Sydney Mines.
Doyle and Little Anse starter Mitchell Farrell duked it out through three scoreless innings in which they both pitched their way out of potential trouble.
But with two outs in the bottom of the fourth, Noah Landry walked, stole second and came home on an RBI single by Craig Richard to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead.
Inverness answered the bell in their half of the fifth. Mark Copley led the inning off with a single, and Eugene Fraser reached on a walk with two outs. A failed pickoff play by Little Anse saw both runners cross the plate to put the A’s up 2-1.
Doyle walked the first two batters in the bottom of the fifth and Little Anse scored one to tie it before Inverness closed out the inning.
Dylan MacDonald took the mound in relief in the bottom of the sixth, where a walk by Clem Fougere and an RBI single by Josh Marchand put the Hawks up 3-2.
Farrell shut the A’s down in the top of the seventh and the Hawks celebrated a hard-fought provincial victory.
The letdown of the championship game was in stark contrast to the elation felt by the A’s in beating the Ramblers 2-1 in the semifinal.
Ryan MacDonnell pitched six strong innings, giving up just four hits before coming out in the sixth in a 1-1 draw.
Doyle shut the Ramblers down in the top of the seventh, thanks in part to a highlight-reel catch by Sandy Sofan in right field, catching up to a ball tailing away from him and diving in the wet grass to come up with the grab. This set up a gummy-bearhug from Doyle and a dramatic finish for the A’s.
Murdock MacLellan got on board in the bottom of the seventh with a one-out walk, then proceeded to steal second and third. With two outs, Doyle earned a walk to keep the inning alive for Mark Copley, who with two strikes on him, hit a walk-off single up the middle to drive in MacLellan for the winning run.
It has been a long time since an Inverness team celebrated with such jubilance on the infield of someone else’s park.
Pitching and stellar defence was the strength of the A’s throughout the weekend, with all three starters in the round-robin pitching compete-game wins.
Doyle put Inverness on the winning track in game one on Friday, throwing 10 strikeouts in a 10-3 win over Kennetcook.
Jamieson Chisholm led the A’s offence with three singles, a walk, two stolen bases and four runs scored.
MacLellan hit a two-run shot in the third and Tyler MacMaster drove in Chisholm with an RBI single as the A’s took a 5-0 lead.
Lead-off batter Jonathan Gosbee, who received one of the three tournament MVP awards, doubled, singled and walked, scoring twice.
Liam MacDonnell and Doyle both singled and scored to round out the scoring.
Dylan MacDonald took the mound in the first game Saturday against Cole Harbour, pitching a five-hit gem for a 2-1 win.
MacDonald struck out five and didn’t allow a walk.
He was also helped by two plays at the plate, thanks to strong throws by Ryan MacDonnell and Sofan from both sides of the field, allowing Copley to record two outs at home.
Both Inverness runs were scored in the bottom of the first. Liam MacDonnell singled with one out and stole second, coming home on a drive by MacLellan that was booted by the third baseman. MacLellan scored on an RBI double off the left-field fence by Chisholm.
Fraser was three-for-three with base hits to lead the A’s at the plate.
Inverness finished the round-robin in their second game on Saturday, thumping Pictou 11-1 in five innings.
With Doyle and MacDonald earning player-of-the-game awards with their pitching performances, A’s starter Aaron Lawless was not to be outdone.
The fireballer recorded nine strikeouts and scattered two hits and two walks for the win and the player-of-the-game award. It was the first game he remembered ever pitching without plunking at least one batter.
The game was all but over in the first inning as the A’s sent 11 batters to the plate for seven runs.
Gosbee led the hit parade with a double and a single, a run scored, an RBI and a stolen base, all in the same inning.
Ten A’s scored at least one run, with Tyler MacMaster coming out after getting hit by a pitch and Fraser coming into the game in the fourth to earn a walk and a run scored.
Of note, Gosbee, Chisholm, Ryan MacDonnell, and Sofan each hit doubles. Also scoring were Liam MacDonnell, MacLellan, Copley, and Corbin Beaton, who also had a big game catching Lawless.
All in all it was a weekend of ball that the Athletics can be proud of.
Inverness is back on the field this weekend to compete for an RABA championship.
The A’s open the best-of-three semifinal series with the Petit de Grat Red Caps this Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Ned MacDonald field. The series resumes on Sunday at noon in Petit de Grat, with a doubleheader if necessary.
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