BRAVES HOST, WIN CANADA DAY TOURNAMENT
Posted July 1, 2017
For the first time since 2010, Tofield baseball fans got to enjoy baseball as part of the annual Canada Day celebrations held by the Town of Tofield. The four team tournament got some great weather as the Braves were supported by the Camrose Axemen, the Holden Blue Jays and the Rosalind Athletics in a successful return of the tournament.
The Braves first game of the afternoon would be against the Rosalind Athletics. The Athletics would be made up of players from the Powerline Baseball League team as well as the 43+ Rosalind Old Timers team. The Old Timers were looking at Nationals this season however due to a reduced roster the team will not be participating in the tournament held in Hamilton, Ontario this year and instead look to build a 43+ team to travel to the 2018 Canadian National Oldtimers Championships in eastern Canada.
In the first inning the Braves would put up six runs against the Athletics starting pitcher. With one out catcher Chad Nelson would get the momentum going with a single before third baseman Rob Berrecloth and centre fielder Craig Neufeld would load the bases on back to back walks. Second baseman Corey Epp would earn the Braves first run of the game by wearing an inside fastball on the hip to bring in Nelson from third base. First baseman Kris Kushnerick would make it 2-0 with a hard line drive single to left field and with the bases loaded right fielder Mark Lawson would also be hit by a pitch to bring home runs three and four of the inning.
Making his first start with the Braves, youngster Shaye Yoder would start off his record setting game with a two out, two RBI single to bring home Kushnerick and Lawson. The seventeen year old Tofield native who plays with the midget Holden Jays, would go on to collect five RBIs with his 2 for 4 debut with the Braves. including a walk off two RBI single in the bottom of the seventh to secure a 11-10 win.
In the second inning the Braves would extend the lead to 8-0 against Athletic’s reliever and midget Camrose Cougars pitcher Carter MacDonald. Pitcher Sean Melanson and Nelson would lead off the inning on back to back walks setting up the opportunity to manufacture a pair of runs. A stolen base for Melanson, a ground out to the right side from Rob Berrecloth, a passed ball and a RBI single from Craig Neufeld would score both Melanson and Nelson.
The Braves would add another run in the third inning after the Athletics would score three in the top of the inning. Another lead off walk would come back to bite the young MacDonald as Kushnerick would walk on four straight pitches and be brought in on Yoder’s third RBI of the game as he would ground out to second baseman Ty Twitchell of the Athletics.
Once again the Braves would see their offence unable to produce after a hot start, as they would be held off the score sheet in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings allowing the Athletics to pull even with a five run top of the sixth against Melanson. Despite pitching strongly for the Braves, the soaring temperatures and scorching sun would wear down Melanson who gave his team six strong innings of work before ultimately running out of gas in the sixth.
Rosalind would score five runs to tie the game in the sixth inning as the first five hitters would all reach safely and come around to score as they would send ten hitters to the plate. Five hits, a walk and an error by the Braves saw a huge momentum swing in the game as the Braves were unable to respond in their half of the sixth and looked defeated. In the seventh inning Athletics shortstop Dan Enright would use his speed to beat out a double play before stealing second to put himself in scoring position as the go ahead run against Braves reliever Chad Nelson. With two out the Athletics man they call Skip would deliver a double to right centre to make it a 10-9 game heading into the bottom of the seventh.
A great crowd that packed the bleachers would get to see fundamental baseball at work as the Braves would set themselves up for a dramatic finish. Prior to the inning the Braves discussed the strategy of “get him on, get him over” and a lead off single by Epp would be the first big step. First baseman Kris Kushnerick would lay down the first pitch he would see to MacDonald’s left side leaving the young left hander only one option and allowing Epp to get to second easily. With the tying run at second base, the pressure of the game on the line and the scorching heat, MacDonald would walk right fielder Mark Lawson before the bullpen for the Athletics was summoned.
Runners at first and second with one out and Dan Enright now in to pitch, the Braves would get a huge break on a passed ball in the first pitch from Enright to centre fielder Dylan Berrecloth. The Athletics scouting report was amazingly accurate as an extremely shallow centre fielder would make a catch one a bullet line drive off the bat of Berrecloth for out number two. Two out, two on and down by one second baseman Shaye Yoder would collect a franchise record five RBIs as he would drive an Enright offering into right field scoring Epp and easily scoring Lawson would was on the move at the crack of the bat.
The win would move the Braves into the tournament final against the Holden Blue Jays who hammered the Camrose Axemen 19-6 earlier in the morning.
For the championship final the Braves would send right hander Corey Epp to the mound to take on Randall Ziegler of the Holden Blue Jays. Last pitching on June 22, the Braves ace was well rested and pitched like it tossing a complete game five hitter for his third win of the season.
Epp would scatter five hits, all singles from the Jays, across his seven innings of work allowing only one earned run when Holden would string together a single from Grayson Suprovich, a walk to Zak Lang and a RBI single to Kyle Muzechka in the sixth inning. It was the only blip on the radar for Epp who would strike out eight Jays and allow only one walk but the game could have been much different in the fourth inning.
The power hitting Zak Lang would turn on an inside fastball from Epp and calmly put it a projected 358’ down the left field line. The ball was feet, maybe inches, foul as it sailed past the foul pole and narrowly making it a 3-3 ball game. Instead the play was foul and Epp would get Lang to ground out into a 4-6-3 double play to get out of the jam allowing only one unearned run in the inning.
Offensively the Braves would once again be driven by the top of the order with catcher Dylan Berrecloth (3 for 4, 3R, RBI, SB), second baseman Chad Nelson (2 for 4, 3R, 2B, SB) and third baseman Rob Berrecloth (3 for 4, 4RBI, 2 2B). The top three would be a combined 8 for 12 with six runs scored, five RBIs and three doubles on the afternoon. Designed hitter Kris Kushnerick would add a pair of RBIs hitting clean up and right fielder Mark Lawson would continue his remarkable pace of getting on base going 1 for 1 with a pair of walks to lift his on base percentage to .923 over thirteen plate appearances this season.
The Braves would tag Ziegler for nine hits over his four innings of work scoring six runs off of the right hander before the Jays would turn to midget aged Clay Giebelhaus to close out the game. Both pitchers would have trouble with veteran Rob Berrecloth as he would collect four RBIs in a game for the third time this season previously knocking in four runs against the Camrose Roadrunners and the Holden Blue Jays.
Unfortunately for the Braves the large crowds that had gathered to watch baseball throughout the day had dwindled prior to the game due to some light rain that hit the area. But nonetheless the day of baseball was widely attended at the Tofield Sports Grounds as the area was packed with fastball, Gymkhana activities as well as the very popular spray park on a day where temperatures reached 30 degrees at times.
Fans are hoping that the Braves can continue their success on Tuesday when the 3-7 Camrose Roadrunners come to town for a pivotal game in the hunt for a playoff spot for both teams. The Roadrunners will essentially need to win their remaining four games to have a shot at overtaking the Braves for the last playoff spot available (the Rosalind Athletics, Holden Blue Jays and Leduc Milleteers have already earned three of the four berths). The Braves and Roadrunners met on June 27 in Camrose with Tofield winning 13-4 before their last PBL scheduled day off. The Roadrunners would lost to the Leduc Milleteers 8-4 on Thursday June 29.