O’LEARY -- Prince Edward Island teams took control during the opening day of play in the Eastern Canadian Men’s Intermediate C Fast Pitch Championship Friday in O’Leary,
The host and two-time defending champions, O’Leary Summerside Chrysler Dodge Eagles, scored two close wins on Ellis field, 4-2 over New Brunswick 2, Kingsclear Warriors, and they went right back out on the field and secured a 3-1 win of Puslinch Kodiak, the Ontario team in the tournament.
Mitch Hardy pitched both games for the Eagles, collecting 30 strike-outs, 16 of them in the first game.
Meanwhile, over on the Rink Field, Charlottetown Cardinals kept pace. Steven Bishop struck out 10 New Brunswick Taymouth Tigers batters, walked four and allowed just seven hits in the Cardinals 6-2 opening win. He helped his own cause with a two run homer.
In the Cardinals’ second game, started on the rink field and completed under the lights on Ellis Field, Bishop helped bring the game to a close in the fifth inning when his grand slam put the Cardinals ahead 14-5. When the Sydney Alexandra Street White Sox failed to get any of those runs back in the bottom of the fifth the game was called due to the seven-run mercy rule.
Lukas Dyment picked up the pitching win for the Cardinals in Charlottetown’s second game. Replacing Colton Donahue in the first innings and striking out four batters, issuing one free pass and giving up three hits through four and one-third innings. Dana Estwick took the loss, allowing three walks and 11 hits in five innings and shutting down five batters.
The Eagles found themselves in a hole, down 1-0 in the top of their first inning of the tournament. The score stayed that way until they responded with four runs in the bottom of the third inning, enough for the win. Joel Rodgerson, who started the onslaught with a single, would prove to be the offensive hero in the Eagles second game, too. He was driven home twice following a walk and a bunt single and registered one of O’Leary’s two first-inning runs. Troy Ellsworth had O’Leary’s other run.
Rodgerson admitted he was more comfortable with the second game than the first game after taking an early lead. “It’s nice to have a little bit of a lead, but you don’t want to have too big of a lead because you can get too comfortable and things can start to go the other way in a hurry. It’s nice to have them close so that we feel like we have the fighting spirit the whole game.”
Score from Friday’s night game between the two Nova Scotia teams, the White Sox and the Sydney Chants Funeral Cardinals was not available.
There are nine more games today (Saturday) and the top four teams after that will live to play on in Sunday’s semi-finals at 10 or 12 noon. Winners of those semi finals will meet in the championship final Sunday at 2 p.m.
Saturday’s games are every two hours on the half-hour starting at 8:30 a.m., on Ellis Field and concluding with an 8:30 game there. There are also 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. games on the rink field.