West Side Monarchs third baseman Stephen Shepherd waits for Veitch’s Ultramar Hawks’ Darrin O’Quinn to slide into his tag in Game 4 of the best-of-five baseball final at Jubilee Field Thursday.
— Star photo by Geraldine Brophy
CORNER BROOK It’s come down to a one-game, winner-take-all situation in the Corner Brook Molson Senior Baseball League.
The Veitch’s Ultramar Hawks and West Side Monarchs will step out onto Jubilee Field tonight, weather permitting, each having won two games in the best-of-five league championship — the most recent decision a 9-0 thumping in the Hawks’ favour in Game 4 on Thursday night.
Game 4 was a tale of two pitchers — Hawks veteran hurler Frank Humber producing a brilliant one-hitter, with no walks and seven strikeouts; and young ace Michael Tavenor, suffering through a rare dud that saw him leave the mound after just over four innings, with six runs allowed.
Tavenor last pitched on Sept. 27, not quite the week’s rest he’s used to getting between starts.
“I think that was tough for him ... it’s tough for any pitcher to come back and have the normal stuff,” said Hawks’ Fred Prosper. “He didn’t quite have his good stuff tonight and I think we were able to capitalize on it.”
After two scoreless innings, the Hawks got going in the third when Mike Brake singled to drive home Mike Simms and Prosper. Then Darren O’Quinn doubled to bring in Brake and Perry Alexander. They didn’t know it at the time, but that four-run cushion would turn out to be more than they’d need.
Tavenor’s night on the mound ended with no outs in the fifth inning, after Darren Colbourne doubled — then advanced to third after an error by Monarchs left-fielder Jon Wheeler — which led to Mike Simms and Prosper crossing the plate to make it a 6-0 ball game.
Jeff Gillam replaced Tavenor, but couldn’t escape the inning before giving up two more runs. Brake hit a single to cash in Colbourne, then scored himself following a wild pitch.
The Hawks added another in the sixth when Alexander knocked in Prosper with a single.
“To be able to come out and swing the bats and score some runs tonight ... that’s what it takes,” Prosper said. “We got a big game out of Frank and we made some big plays.”
The Monarchs were unable to make anything happen offensively, their only hit a double from Gillam in the fourth, sandwiched between two strikeouts and another strikeout. Tavenor is usually able to bail them out in low-scoring affairs, but that wasn’t happening Thursday night.
“Tavvy’s arm wasn’t the best,” said Monarchs’ Sean Mitchell. “He came out and gave us all he had.”
Mitchell said the team hadn’t yet made the decision on who would pitch tonight.
“We’re running out of arms,” he said. “We’re just trying to hang in there and get through the final game.”
Having the chance to win the championship by winning just one game is still an enviable position for any team to be in, which Mitchell acknowledges.
“It’s a clean slate now, tied 2-2,” he said. “We’ll be starting fresh.”
Colin Wood will be on the mound for the Hawks.
“We expect a good game out of Colin,” said Prosper. “If we make all the plays and hit the ball like we’ve been doing all series, I think we’ll be OK.”
The Hawks may be the butt of a few age jokes from time to time, but at times like these, that experience can be priceless.
“We’ve been in this situation before,” Prosper said. “That’s why we play baseball, to come out for games like this.”
Teams 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Hawks 0 0 4 0 4 1 0 9 11 0
Monarchs 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
Frank Humber (W) - 7IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 7K
Michael Tavenor (L) - 4IP, 8H, 6R, 5ER, 2BB, 0K
Darren Colbourne - 3-4, 1R, 1RBI, 1SB
Jeff Gillam - 1-3, 1SB