Countdown to Provincial Championship Tournament (Jul 29/10)
Thunder win 11-7 in Tsawassen to clinch a berth in the AA Provincials.
After an incredibly slow start in Tsawassen the Thunder pulled through again in extra innings to win 11-7. Liao got the start and in uncharastic fashion only went one inning as the home team put the ball and play and cashed in 3 in the first with the help mof a dropped fly ball making the score 3-1 after 1. The second was scoreless but in the third both teams made mistakes that led to runs. The thunder score three and then Tsawasssen ansered with 4 with including a three run blast by the starting pitcher #14.
The Thunder who are clearly not a morning team team woke up and chipped away at the lead scoring once in the 5th and twice in the 7th when Mackay drove in two with a nice bit of hitting. Yeun, who relieved Liao gave way to Aceman who was dominant but was pulled from the game at 44 pitched in order to keeo hin eligible to pitch tomorrow. This was a tough decision for the coaching staff but we had faith in Espig to get some outs and in case of a loss we would need Aceman tomorrow and Metcalf is injured. The gamble paid off as Espig got the Titans 1-2-3 in the 7th forcing the game to extra innings once again.
In the extra inning, Smythe led off with a walk, Lee singled and then Yuen cashed in Smythe from 3rd with the go ahead run. Mackay drove in another un with his 4th hit of the game, Aceman doubled and when the dust settled the Thunder had a 4 run lead.
Espig have up a single and a walk to start the 8th but was as cool as the other side of the pillow after that and struck out the side to earn the win.
Some notable performances on the day included a couple of big plays by Anderson at third and a great running catch by Aceman. Mackay had 4 hits 4 runs scored 3 stolen bases and 3 RBI's to lead the way on offence. Espig, Aceman, Lee, Legg and Smythe had multi hit games and all scored at least once. Burnaby comes to Hillcrest tomorrow for the final game of the playoffs then it is off to Chilliwack. One thing the kids have to improve on is their early game intensity and one thing the parents have to improve on is their support of the team, it is way too quiet in the stands and we'll need some positive energy in the Provincials. The scoresheet speaks for itslef so the player of the game is Mackay who has hit the ball well every game so far. Go Thunder!!!
Thunder pull ahead late to win 7-3 in a good battle in Surrey. Summary to follow....
It was like old times for the VCB crew as they hit the road again for a match up in Surrey against the Canadians. Mackay was liberated from his catching duties and made his pitching debut for the Thunder with Smythe taking over behind the plate. A lefty catching is the baseball eqiuivalent of that squirrel that rides a skateboard on You Tube, not often seen. Mackay got off to a good start striking out the lead off batter on three pitches eventually getting out of the first with a frugal pitch count of 10. The Thunder benefitted from a couple of walks and an infiled hit to load the bases but did not deliver in what became a problem for the boys on the night as they left 12 runners homeless.
In the second, Smythe singled and after Lee was plunked stole third and scored on an E6 off the bat of Mackay. Barber drove in Aceman in the third on a big double and the game limped along uneventfully until the fourth when the Canadians made some noise.
A couple of hits and an error led to two Surrey runs but Mackay got out of a jam to stop the bleeding going 4 impressive innings allowing 4 hits, 2 runs (1 earned), and 6 K's.
Metcalf got the call from the bullpen and and answered with authority for the second consecutive night but was victim of some shaky defense in the 5th which allowed the Candainas to pull ahead 3-2 after 5. Your humble blogger should apologize to the Surrey scorekeeper for a snarky remark in response to the count being wrong leaving Barber the victim of an abbreviated at bat. Mr. Espig and Mr. Yuen and Barber agreed the count was wrong but the arguement was fruitless. I am sure if Aceman nation was present we would have more vociferously articulated our case.
The best non call of the game went to Aceman who once again gunned a guy at third but the call didn't go as hoped even though all agreed the runner was as out as Acid Washed jeans and Flock of Seagulls haircuts.
The Thunder struck back in the 6th when Smythe hit a sharp single followed by a booming double from Metclaf who seemed determined to win this game. Yuen plated Smythe showing some toughness as he put a nasty fastball in play with two strikes followed by a Mackay single thst scored Metcalf. In the bottom of the 6th Metcalf economically struck out the first batter on three pitches then after a single, Aceman made another huge play by laying out for a blooper and gunning down the wandering runner at first for a huge DP.
The bats came alive in the 7th as Ace and Espig doubled, Barber nudged a single cashing in Ace and then stole second allowing the silent but deadly Legg to convince a grounder to elude the middle infield cashing in two more to make the score 7-3. The bottom of 7 went swiftly with the game ending on a Brooks Robinson like play to end the game by Anderson.
Even though the bats were cold to start they came alive late led by Espig with three hits including two doubles, Smythe with two hits and two runs scored, Legg with two hits and two RBI's, Barber with the same and Mackay with 3 RBI's. The player of the game however goes to Metcalf who gets the win for the second straight night coming in late and looking like he meant business.
The Provincial picture is unclear as the standings are extremely close but to keep it simple: if the Thunder win both on the weekend we make it, if we win one we might and if we lose both we probably won't but still might. I hope that is clear as mud.
We are in Tsawassen at 10 Saturday morning so get to bed early tonight and let's keep this thing rolling!
Thunder win 7-6 in 8 inings against White Rock. Summary to follow......
The Thunder rolled into South Surrey last night in a big re-match against the first place White Rock squad. They got things going early in the top of first when Mackay once again led off with a single and promptly stole second. After Aceman singled, Espig gained first on a third strike past ball and then Barber and Anderson walked to make it 2-0. With the bases loaded and two outs, Smythe singled bringing in two more and it was 4-0. White Rock came back to make it 4-2 after 1 and the stage was set for a good battle between two teams looking to improve their chances and earning a spot at Provincials.
In the third, the Thunder scored two more as Aceman and Espig walked and were csched in on a RBI by Braber and a single by Anderson. White Rock countered with one in the 4th and another in the 5th and as the Thunder bats went cold the home team threatened in every inning and if not for some timely defense and some steely calm showed by Yuen with bases loaded none out in the 4th and 2nd and 3rd one out in the 5th this game could have been blown wide open. Liao got the start for the Thunder and went three innings against a free swining White Rock squad and left the game with the lead in another gutsy outing.
As the story seems to go of late with the Thunder the 6-4 lead evapourated with a two out single off Metcalf who came in to relieve Yuen. This didn't phase Metcalf as he settled down and kept the home team frustrated setting the stage for extra innings where in the top of 8 Coach Mackay stole the show. With one out and Espig on second a bunt was called and Barber delivered, deftly pushing the ball to the 3rd base side. As the pitcher fielded the ball and turned to throw to first Espig was galloping towards home. The surprised first baseman rushed the throw and #51 slid under the tag at home for a 7-6 lead. Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen and the cast of Major League would have been proud.
In the bottom of 8 three straight ground balls were fielded smoothly and the Thunder headed home on highway 99 into a beautiful sunset after a long night in White Rock.
All three Thunder chuckers were good on the night with Metcalf getting the win. The bats were good early but later fizzled and the kids have to find a way to get the ball in play if they plan to make it to Chilliwack.
Offensively, Mackay had three hits and three stolen bases. Aceman singled and scored twice, Espig plated three times and Barber, Anderson and Smythe had two RBI's each.
The player of the game should go to coach Mackay for the old school bunt call in the 8th but as this award is reserved for players it goes to Barber for getting the bunt down and for his two RBI's. Pick your tune Barbarino!
*****************Practice is Today at 430 not 6*************************************************
Big 3-2 win by the Thunder with their backs to the wall on the back end of a home and home against Newton. Summary to follow soon....
The Thunder pulled out a close one this afternoon at Hillcrest in what was essentially a must win game. The team was focusing on putting together a solid 7 innings and they did just that. Yuen got the start and had the Newton squad off balance going 4 innings with 6 K's one walk, 4 hits and no earned runs.
Newton scored one in the third after an error followed by a couple of hits but Aceman had his second assist in two games as he gunned down a runner to kill what could have been a big inning. In the bottom of the inning Smythe led off with a walk and was advanced to second on a sac bunt by Erickson. Smythe then stole third and scored on a past ball. Mackay walked, stole second and then scored on a single by Legg. Aceman then doubled to left to make the score 3-1 after 4.
There were some great defensive plays, the two biggest were a diving play at second by Erickson to take away a hit and Espig snared a line drive and doubled off the runner at 3rd to end a threat in the 5th. Newton only managed to score one run when they could have blown the game open.
Aceman came in to relieve Yuen in the 5th and battled hard to preserve the win with some help from Mackay who completed the strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play to thwart a push by the Canadians in the 7th.
The kids showed some grit today and played with more determination against a very solid Newton team. The player of the game goes to Aceman who had a key hit, a huge play in center field and was strong in relief to earn the save. Name your tune, Ace.
Thunder lose 4-2 to Newton wasting a great effort by Liao on the bump....Summary to follow
Sorry for the delay in getting the summary on the site, there was a lot of baseball to watch yesterday! The Thunder lost another tight one that they could have easily won with a few more hits. Liao pitched well and gave the team a chance to get a road victory but Johal from Newton had the Thunder hitters off balance most of the game.
It was 1-1 through 5 until the Canadians scored after a couple of walks followed by a few hits and some miscues by the visitors.
The boys have a shot at redemption Sunday as Newton pays a visit to Hillcrest in what is a key game for both teams in their drive to make Provincials.
Espig had the hit of the game with a big solo shot in the 7th and Aceman made the defensive play of the day gunning a runner at 3rd but the player of the game goes to Liao who once again had a strong outing and with a bit of hitting woukd have earned the win.
Thunder lose a see-saw battle to White Rock 9-8. Write up to follow......
Despite what truned out to be a back and forth game one might say it was decided in the first inning. The first two White Rock hitters reached on errors and White Rock jumped out to an early 2-0 lead. The Thunder had a chance to do some damage in the first but failed to cash in with the bases loaded in what is becoming a bad habit. White Rock cashed in two more in the second chasing Metcalf from the game after two.
Yuen came in to relieve in the third and after retiring the side 1-2-3 in the 3rd and getting out of a jame in the 4th his teammates seemed to be inspired. After a couple of walks and clutch hits by Lee and Barber the score was 4-4 after 4 and some ebergy was restored to the team and their fans. The Thunder took the lead on a throwing error in the 5th but a strong hitting White Rock side cashed in two in the 6th to take the lead 6-5. The Thunder didn't give up and after Anderson was beaned and Legg singled, Mackay hit a big two out single to put his team back on top.
White Rock came up in the 7th with Aceman on the bump and worked two walks with one out and then stroked back to back doubles to score three. Aceman led off the bottom of 7 with a big double and scored on an Espig ground out but the comeback ended there as the Thunder let one slip away dropping their record to 2-2. The home and home against Newton this weekend looms large and the boys have to put together a couple of strong efforts in order to reach their goal of making Provincials.
The player of the game is Yuen who came in at a tough time and pitched well, giving his team a chance to win. Let us know what song you want on the web site, Jeff.
Thunder 10 Tsawassen 2
In a similar start to last game the Thunder retired the side in the top of the first and then got to business scoring two when Mackay and Aceman scored on wild pitches. The first three Thunder batters reached base so the score could have been more than 2-0 after one and this seemed to motivate the Tsawassen side who responded with two of their own in the top of the second.
The Thunder answered back swiftly in the second when Liao drove in two on a hard single after Legg was gunned down at home on a great throw by Menzies in center. Both teams were expeditiously retired in the third and a threat by the visitors in the top of the 4th was avoided on the strength of some strong defense, most notably by Legg who made a tough play at 3rd look easy to keep the score 4-2 for the Thunder going into the bottom of 4. This at bat proved to be the turning point of the game.
Smythe drew a walk, advanced to second on an infield hit by Anderson who despite being as safe as Sweden at first was called out. The free swinging Lee came in and crushed a double to deep left and this seemed to rattle the Titans who promptly gave up singles by Liao, Aceman and Espig to make the score 8-2 after 4.
Liao pitched 5 strong innings and was helped by Thunder fielders that did not make an error on a perfect night at Hillcrest Park, the baseball mecca of Vancouver. Aceman came in to relieve and overpowered several Tsawassen hitters to secure the win with the game ending fittingly on a great defensive play by Espig who chased down a dipping fly ball in foul territory.
You may have noticed the theme song on the web site has changed from coach Ken's selection of Celine Dion. Despite the power of this inspirational tune we have made a change to the equally inspiring AC DC which will no doubt make the head banger parents happy. We have decided to let the player of the game pick the next tune and first player to have that honour will be Legg. Liao was strong on the bump and had a good game at the plate but it is good defense that was the difference tonight and Legg was a rock on the hot corner making 6 assists. We look forward to Mr. Legg's tune selection.
A strong White Rock side pay a visit on Thurday evening, we hope to see you then.
Thunder 21-Surrey Astros 6 It was a quick start to the game Saturday on a beautiful afternoon at Hillcrest. Liao started on the bump for the home squad and retired the side on 5 pitches. The first three thunder batter reached on what were makeable plays and this proved costly for the visitors when Espig tripled followed by hard singles by Metcalf and Barber to make the score 6-0 after about 10 minutes after the first pitch was thrown.
As a wise man once said "It ain't over 'til it's over" and The Astros made this baseball proverb come true as they quickly responded with 5 in the top of the second. The bottom of the inning saw Aceman will another pop fly to be dropped and he soon joined espig at home plate after the powerful lefty crushed a ball into the wind to the deepest part of the park. Lee and Smythe both singled and scored to earn back four runs to make it 12-4 after two.
Liao went 3 and two thirds before giving way to Metcalf who is looking good in his return form the pitching DL as the Astros only managed one more run the rest of the way.
Legg looked good at third and is seemlessly making the move from second and also made coach Mike happy by unslefishly cashing in a runner from third with a deft bit of hitting, pushing a grounder to the right side. Anderson reached base three times and is hitting the ball well and Mackay was a menace again on offense scoring three runs on two hits and being a work horse behind the dish.
Yuen came in for Smythe and singled then scored. Campa subbed for Barber and had two good at bats driving in two runs. Erickson gave Liao a rest and scored a run and made a solid play in the right in the 5th showing what depth this team has.
Groundkeeping- A dedicated crew came out to help with field at the request of team manager Anderson. He and Mr. Yuen looked like 9 year olds on their Radio Flyer's as they rode the mower. Mrs. Yuen battled the heat and was strong on the rake and Mr. Aceman proved himslef to be a key part of the irrigation crew. Akiko Espig was the groundskeeping player of the game showing skill and stamina in the heat as she disposed of the infield weeds in Hall of Fame style. If I am forgetting anyone esle who helped out I apologize, your efforts are greatly appreciated. Thanks to all the fans for thier support. Next up is a practice Monday at Chaldecott and a game at home Tuesday against Tsawassen.
Player of the Game
Espig is the player of the game with a triple and a home run that seemed to kill whatever someback plans the Astros had. keep up the good work, boys!
Welcome to the Summer Season! The Thunder played their first game tonight at Nanaimo Park against the Van Minor Canadians on a steamy evening that go hotter as the game went on. The boys battled against a gutsy and improved Van Minor squad who took advantage of every Thunder mistake to take an early 4-2 lead. Metcalf got the start after missing a few weeks with an injury and looked solid going two innings. The Thunder hit the ball well but as can happen in baseball the hits found Canadians leather instead of green grass as a see saw battle ensued, no doubt entertaining a large summer crowd.
The Thunder took a three run lead into the 7th but the Canadians chipped away with a couple of clutch hits, a hit batsmen and then a walk off single by #5 who was the player of the game for the hosts. The Thunder should not hang their heads as it is only one game and the summer season will see more than one night like tonight where the teams battle to the end.
The bats were good tonight with Mackay, Metclaf, Aceman and Smythe having mulit hit games and many more others hit the ball well including Lee, Anderson, Legg and Barber. Yuen came in and pitched well in relief for Metcalf and if the boys managed to make a few key plays early the result would have been much different. The Final score was 12-11 for Van Minor.
The Player Of The Game was Liam McKay who went 3/4 with 3 runs scored and was solid behind the plate.
It is never fun to lose but a game like tonight is why baseball is a great game. The second guessing and thoughts of what might have been leads to a desire to be better and get right back it and that is what we will do Saturday at the friendly confines of Hillcrest Park.