AXEMEN SWEPT IN AFTERNOON DOUBLEHEADER
Posted May 28, 2017
On Sunday afternoon the Camrose Axemen fell to 0-5 on the season with a pair of losses to the now 4-0 and NCABL leading Stony Plain Mets by scores of 3-2 and 8-4. The Axemen find themselves in the basement of the NCABL, one of only three winless teams in the league along with the Edmonton Athletics (0-1) and the St Albert Cardinals (0-2).
Game One Recap
Left hander Kyle Muzechka would make his season debut for the Axemen in game one, getting the start against Mike Cote of the Mets. Muzechka would make his first start for the Axemen since June 12 2012 when he would get the start and the win against the Edmonton Jays. The often used closer for the Axemen would be stretched out for five innings and pitch very well allowing only three runs, two of which were scored off the bat of Mets catcher Brandon Strocki, both of which would fail to leave the infield but would help pave the way for the 3-2 Mets win. Muzechka’s longest outing of the 2017 season came on opening day for the Holden Blue Jays of the Powerline Baseball League when he would throw four innings of shut out baseball leading them to their first victory of the season.
In the first inning Muzechka would get into trouble early as Mets centre fielder Chad Spellman would lead off the game with a single ahead of a one out Kyle Radke double that would go off the short fence in right field freezing Spellman at second before heading to third. With two out catcher, and player of the game for the Mets, Brandon Strocki would deliver an infield single that would cause some confusion on the left side of the Axemen defence between third baseman Matt Andreassen and shortstop Cal Zimmer. Andreassen would give way to Zimmer moving to his right but unfortunately the speedy Strocki would be able to reach first without a throw while Spellman would trot home for the first run of the game.
More tough breaks for the Axemen in the bottom of the third inning when back to back walks to start the inning would come back and haunt Muzechka. The duo of Radke and Turner would pull off a double steal with one out to set up a ground ball RBI by Strocki for out number two. The play was base running magic by the Mets as Muzechka would only look at the runners once and Radke would take off on first movement with Turner moving on the delay. It is the kind of play that the younger Axemen got a lesson in.
The Mets would score their third and final run in the bottom of the fifth when, you guessed it, Strocki would connect on a Muzechka offering and drive the ball to centre field for a two out double. The NCABL courtesy runner rule would come in to effect with a speedier Steve Cote coming in for Strocki. Mets third baseman Al Lyster would get a RBI single which Cote would come all the way around from second to score on making it 3-2 Stony Plain after the Axemen scored two in the top half of the fifth inning to tie the game.
First year Axemen Matt Andreassen would be the bullpen for game one coming in to pitch a scoreless sixth inning allowing only a walk to pinch hitter Steve Cote before getting the Spellman, second baseman Blair McGeough and Radke in order to strand a runner.
Longtime NCABL pitcher Mike Cote would allow only four hits to the Axemen, a pitcher that has gone full circle against Camrose since they joined the league in 2008. At the start of the Axemen’s NCABL tenure the team struggled to hit Cote on a regular basis, then they got to enjoy a couple seasons of hitting Cote extremely well before the last couple of starts by the veteran against the Axemen have been rather dominating by the right hander.
In the second inning second baseman Ryan Petryshyn and first baseman Joe Pasychnyk would hit back to back singles to lead off the inning. Petryshyn would turn his single in to extra bases when Mets left fielder would fall victim to a dancing baseball and have the ball get by him to the fence allowing Petryshyn to gingerly make his way to second base. The Axemen would not be able to turn the opportunity into a run and Cote would escape the inning. In the third the Axemen would once again get their first two hitters on base. First Axemen catcher and all time hit by pitch lead Kris Johnson would take first base on an errant pitch from Cote. Short stop Cal Zimmer would then reach base after laying down a sacrifice bunt and an error to catcher Brandon Strocki. The Mets catcher would redeem himself when Matt Andreassen would lay down a sacrifice bunt attempt that allowed Strocki to pick up and throw out Johnson heading to third base keeping runners at first and second as opposed to second and third. Cote would use a 6-4-3 double play from Radke, McGeough and Tyler Lyster to once again get out of the inning.
Cote would settle in and retire six Axemen hitters in a row before his luck would run out in the top of the fifth. With two out Cote would allow the only walk of the game as catcher Kris Johnson would take the free base. Cal Zimmer would go to deep left centre for his first double of the season bringing runners at second and third for the young Andreassen. One of the youngest guys in the NCABL would get the job done against one of the most experienced guys in the NCABL by hitting a ball back up the middle and past a diving Radke at short to cash in both Johnson and Zimmer without a throw to tie the game at two at the time.
The Mets would close out the game retiring the last seven Axemen hitters in a row as Cote would pitch a perfect sixth before closer Jamie Cameron would come in and get a fly ball out and a couple of ground ball outs including a fantastic charging pick and throw by Josh Turner at third base to end the game. Cameron may be recognizable to NCABL fans as the right handed pitcher was the 2010 NCABL MVP and a member of the Parkland White Sox franchise from 2008-2011 at which point the Sox moved into the Senior AAA Sunburst league. Cameron joins the Mets along with Andrew Slinko this season from the now defunct Parkland White Sox. The Mets now have Jamie Cameron, Andrew Slinko, Josh Turner, Kyle Radke, Brad Walde, Brandon Strocki and Blair McGeough from the former Parkland White Sox franchise, a team that went 51-19-2 during there four seasons including three NCABL Championships, a NCABL Pennant, three NCABL Championship Series MVPs and a NCABL MVP.
Game Two Recap
The pitching matchup for game two would be the Axemen’s Shawn Noble vs Mets’ Josh Turner. Once again the Axemen would be sunk by a couple of big innings from the Mets as they would score three in the second inning and four in the fifth to pave the way for a 8-4 win.
In the second inning the Axemen would take an early lead with the bases loaded. Back to back lead off singles by first baseman Joe Pasychnyk and centre fielder Jordan Riopel would give the Axemen an opportunity to move two runners into scoring position. Youngster Zach Bailey would lay down a sacrifice bunt but the agile Mets catcher Brandon Strocki would pop up and try to get Pasychnyk heading to third. A good throw would have nailed the runner instead an error was charged to the catcher leaving the bases loaded. With one out, Axemen catcher Kris Johnson would be robbed of a single when short stop Andrew Slinko would make a nice play to get a force out at second. The great defensive play likely saved the Mets a second run and kept the game a 1-0.
The Axemen would collect a pair of solo home runs for their next two runs. In the third inning short stop Chance Wheatley would drive a two out offering from Turner over the right field fence and into the trees while Riopel would hit a deep shot into the baseball field beyond the left field fence for the third Axemen run of the game. Riopel’s solo home run would come off of Mets reliever Blair McGeough, who once referred to Riopel as the world’s tallest midget during the 2015 season.
The Axemen offence also contributed a pair of doubles off of the Mets duo of Turner and McGeough. Left fielder Shaun Painter would hit his first double of his Axemen career in the fourth inning but would be stranded in scoring position while Wheatley would connect on his first double of the season and eleventh career double in the fifth inning. Like painter, Wheatley would find himself left in scoring position as the Axemen would be unable to get a timely hit in either case to score a run.
Kyle Muzechka would score his first run of the season in the sixth inning when he would run for catcher Kris Johnson. A pair of wild pitches would move Muzechka into third base when third baseman Cal Zimmer would hit a RBI single up the middle for the fourth and final run of the afternoon by the Axemen.
The nine hits collected by the Axemen in game two, six off of Turner and three off of McGeough, is the most hits that the Axemen have collected in a game this season and with a pair of doubles and a pair of home runs, by the hardest hitting that the Axemen have done to date.
Two big run producing innings for the Mets came in the second and the fifth, accounting for seven of the eight runs they would score on the afternoon. In the second inning Noble would issue back to back one out hit batters hitting third baseman Kevin Geinger and right fielder Ryan Lyster. Geinger would score on a RBI double from Steve Cote and Lyster would trot home on a RBI fielder’s choice off the bat of centre fielder Chad Spellman with Cote scoring later on in the inning for a 3-1 Mets lead. The Mets would be held off the score board until the fifth when a pair of one out singles by Slinko and designated hitter Brad Walde would end Noble’s afternoon in favour of the Axemen bullpen. Youngster Zach Bailey would get Kyle Radke to hit a hard ground ball that Axemen shortstop Chance Wheatley was unable to play cleanly on the back hand for a possible double play. Instead the Mets would score one on the play before left fielder Steve Cote would once again stick it to the Axemen, this time with a two RBI double before scoring himself on a stolen base and wild pitch with two outs later in the inning. Cote would finish the afternoon 2 for 3 with a pair of doubles and three RBIs.
The Axemen defence finally started to play well and made a couple of big plays. In the third inning Mets short stop Kyle Radke would scorch a ball at second baseman Matt Andreassen who would calmly pick the ball and make a nice transfer to short stop Chance Wheatley for the 4-6-3 double play. In the fifth inning the Axemen would use a relay to cut down Ryan Lyster at home plate to save a run as right fielder Evan Schoenknecht, second baseman Matt Andreassen and catcher Kris Johnson would connect to make the nice play on Cote’s double to right field.
The pair of losses move the Axemen to 0-5 on the season and the Mets vault into first place with a 4-0 record. The Axemen will now have to wait until Wednesday June 7 before getting back on to the field again as they will travel to Edmonton to take on the Athletics at Footz Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15pm between the currently winless Athletics (they play a double header on Sunday June 4 versus the Westlock Red Lions) and the winless Axemen. The Athletics will also be coming off of a horrendous twenty five day break between scheduled NCABL games when they play the Red Lions on Sunday, last playing on May 10 against the Edmonton Blackhawks.
Photos of Sunday's double header can be found here