CORNER BROOK For the fourth time in the Corner Brook Bud Light Men’s Softball League playoffs, Whelan’s Gate found a way to win when facing elimination.
They did it three times in the semifinal round in a come-from-behind win over the Transmission Experts Cardinals, and on Wednesday night they vexed a North Shore club that was seemingly poised to put an end to their season, pulling out an 11-2 victory in Game 5 at Fred Basha Memorial Park A Diamond.
North Shore now leads the best-of-seven league final 3-2. Game 6 goes tonight.
While it’s no surprise the Shore are where they are, not many would have had faith in the Gators to still be playing softball in September. They only began to show signs of life the last week or two of the regular season, but have proven they can be as explosive as either of the other two teams in the league — especially, apparently, in the clutch.
“We went through such a rough season, but we thought we had accomplished so much in the last few weeks,” said winning pitcher Coady Kelly, who allowed just four hits, while striking out 10 and walking one batter. “We had nothing to lose and we came out and threw it all on the line.
“If you win, you win,” he added. “If you lose, at least you leave knowing you played a good game.”
Both Roger Murrin and Bruce Wells saw action on the mound for the losing side, with Murrin taking the official loss. He gave up five runs on four hits in four innings of play, with three strikeouts and three walks.
Neither could contain the offence of the Gators, who continue to shine in these do-or-die situations.
“The by’s are managing the pressure pretty good, a lot better than maybe people thought they would,” Kelly said, noting they got some big at-bats from a few guys who were struggling in the series so far. “It was an all-around team effort.”
Kelly himself deserves credit for keeping the big bats of North Shore at bay.
“I just mixed a lot of pitches,” he said. “It took everything in my arm to do it, but we got by.”
The hurler said his team will approach Game 6 with a relaxed attitude, which seems to work for them.
“Just have a bit of fun,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Colton Kennedy hit a home run for the Gators in the victory, while going 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Jeff Gosse was 1-for-1 with three walks and three runs.
Mike Brake was the lone bright spot for the North Shore, with a 1-for-2 outing that produced a two-run shot over the fence.
“We were flat in the first inning,” Brake said. “They got the jump and we just didn’t recover.
“They wanted the game,” he added. “They were up for the game and they deserved it.”
Brake admitted the fact the Gators are a little younger than his club may be playing a factor this late in the season, when bodies become bruised and broken down, but he feels they’ve got enough left to wrap up the championship.
“We’ve just got to come prepared to play the game,” he said. “We’ve got to come hungrier than they are, simply put.”