Junior Barons’ Jay Warford, right, rises to his feet after stealing second while West Side Monarchs’ Adam Warren bends to scoop up the ball in play at Jubilee Field Tuesday.
— Star photo by Geraldine Brophy
CORNER BROOK With one final swing of the bat, the playoff matchups were finally set.
West Side Monarchs’ Steve Shepherd singled in the bottom of the seventh inning to score Jeff Gillam and break a 9-9 tie against the Junior Barons Tuesday night at Jubilee Field, ending the Corner Brook Molson Senior Baseball League regular season and setting the two teams up for a best-of-three showdown in the semifinal round of the post-season.
Adam Warren was also instrumental in the 10-9 triumph, hitting a three-run homer in a 1-for-3 outing. He also reached base after being walked and hit by a pitch, both of which resulted in runs scored, giving him five RBIs in total on the night.
Colton Kennedy led the baby Barons with a 2-for-4 stat line that included two RBIs.
Gillam was the winning pitcher in an up-and-down complete-game effort that saw him allow nine runs on seven hits with nine walks and six strikeouts.
Mike McWhirter was charged with the loss, giving up two runs on two hits in just over three innings of work. He walked four and struck out one.
The Monarchs’ win meant they, the Junior Barons and Veitch Physiotherapy Aces all finished with 9-12 records. The first-place Hawks ended at 15-6.
The Junior Barons had second place secured due to having winning head-to-head records against both the Monarchs and Aces. The Monarchs held a 4-3 edge over the Aces, giving them third place. The Aces finish in the cellar and will meet the Hawks, a team they won their season series against. Of the six Hawks’ losses, four of them were to the Aces.
Despite all the playoff implications involved, none of that really mattered to the two teams while they were on the field.
“Every game you go into you want to win,” said Monarchs’ Rob Park. “You play your hardest. You give 110 per cent.”
That said, he admitted a win against the team they’re about to face in the playoffs is not a bad thing for confidence.
“We played hard,” he said. “When it came down to it, when we had runners on base, we had key hits.”
Park believes the baby Barons were the stronger team at some points of the regular season, simply due to the number of extra games they were getting playing in provincial tournaments. At this stage of the game, he feels the Monarchs are at least every bit their equal.
“It’s a matter of at-bats,” he said. “They had more at-bats and a chance to get their swings ready, but now that we’ve caught up ... we’re coming in with a win under our belts and I think we’re good to go.”
Not surprisingly, Junior Barons’ Chris Kelly said his team didn’t particularly care who they had to face in the playoffs, but like the Monarchs, they were in it to win it on Tuesday.
“We’ve got a strong team, I think we can beat either of them,” he said. “We just go out and play to win every game.”
Trailing 8-4 at the time, a five-run fifth inning nearly broke the game open for the baby Barons, but their hitting disappeared after that.
“We came out with a couple of clutch hits (in the fifth),” said Kelly. “We couldn’t get those hits in the last couple of innings.”
Though they lost this one, Kelly believes his team has been hitting all the right chords lately and is confident it can continue into the post-season. He said it all comes down to opportunistic offence.
“We’re definitely scoring more runs than we were at the start of the year,” he said.