CORNER BROOK Maybe it was just the autumn chill in the air at Jubilee Field, but the conclusion of the 2012 Corner Brook Molson Senior Baseball League campaign almost seemed inevitable on Tuesday night.
More likely, it had to do with the Health and Performance Aces’ inability to produce sufficient offence, as they brought up solid after scoring twice in the third, hanging in there long enough for the Veitch’s Hawks to break their hearts in the sixth inning.
Perry Alexander’s two-run single with the game tied 2-2 was the death blow, as the Hawks won Game 3 of the best-of-five final 4-2, sweeping the series in three straight games.
“They were only a couple of plays away from winning a game or two, but that’s baseball,” said Alexander. “Both teams had good pitching, good defence, it’s just a matter of getting key hits.
“Sometimes it’s just a matter of time ...”
Rob George put the Aces up 1-0 in the third, after a base hit from Steve Hynes. Hynes then scored on a single from Brian Bennett to give the Aces the two-run edge.
Fred Prosper came up with the first significant at-bat of the night for the victors, as he drove in Dan Humber with a single in the fourth inning to pull the Hawks to within one.
Then came the bottom of the sixth, which kicked off with a base hit from Cory Lockyer. Keith Simmonds came in as the pinch runner, advancing to second after a sacrifice bunt from Jamie Brake. Prosper was intentionally walked to put two on base, then an error allowed Mike Simms to reach and load the bases, with Darren Colbourne up next.
Aces starter Alvin Lafitte hit Colbourne with a pitch, sending Simmonds home to tie the game and keeping the bases full. Mike Brake struck out, leaving just one out for the Hawks to work with, but Alexander came through with a single that brought in Simms and Prosper, before Dean Dwyer grounded out to end the inning.
With one shot left, the Aces couldn’t come up with much, with only one batter reaching base before a groundout by George drew the season to a close.
“This is sweet,” said Colbourne, who earned the complete-game pitching victory. “It’s getting tougher every year ... they’re dogs and they’re a good hitting team, but we didn’t quit.”
It was fitting Alexander was the one to finish the Aces off, Colbourne said, since the veteran shortstop struggled a little earlier in the series.
“It looks good on him, getting the big hit for us,” he said.
Colbourne had an idea he’d get the start on the mound, but wasn’t sure until he took to the field and threw the ball a few times.
“It pissed me off,” he quipped. “Every other game of the series was 20-25 degrees, then I come here tonight and it’s nine or 10 degrees. It’s hard on the old bodies, throwing in that.”
Still, he got the job done. Against an Aces team that maybe wasn’t expected to make it to the final, but certainly made a game of it once they did.
“They got here for what they showed tonight,” Colbourne said. “They got great pitching in the last series, great pitching in this series, but offence is everything.
“It looked like they had it tonight, but we managed to scrape together a few runs late,” he added. “But it wasn’t a three-nothing series, by any means.”
It was a disappointing end for the Aces, as they had to sense two runs wasn’t going to be enough, but could do little about it.
“We only scored three runs in three games,” said Lafitte. “At the end of the day, it’s hard to win the series scoring like that. We couldn’t get our bats going.”
Lafitte realizes, however, the team went a lot farther than many would have thought — and that’s worth something.
“We weren’t even supposed to be out of the first round, but we knocked off the (West Side) Monarchs and had a couple of close games against the Hawks,” he said. “It’s disappointing we didn’t win, but there’s always next season and we’ll go at ‘er again.”