A Curtis Reilly two run single to shallow center field provided the Summerside Chrysler Dodge Eagles with all their offense as they dropped an exhibition game to Team Canada 6-2 Monday night on Ellis Field in O’Leary.
Reilly’s hit scored runners John Ellsworth and Jesse MacIntyre who got on base on seventh inning walks.
Despite the outcome, Team Canada veteran Jeff Ellsworth, who played for the Eagles, the game represented a highlight in his events promotions career. He’s recreation director and events coordinator in O’Leary and a regular member of the O’Leary-based Eagles.
Over 700 fans took in the ball game.
With national team members coming to P.E.I. to play on their provincial teams in the Canadian nationals this week in Charlottetown, he seized the opportunity. “I told them the reason why I wanted to do it and they couldn’t get here fast enough,” Ellsworth said. His reason is to help grow the sport of softball in P.E.I.. Three provincial girls teams were recognized prior to the game and the first boys team to play in O’Leary in a while got their photo taken with the national players after the game. “I wanted to show the young players around here, ‘this can be you some day,’” he said.
Aaron Harvey from Nova Scotia scored from third for Team Canada in the third and that is how the game remained until Mathieu Roy from Quebec smashed a ball over the fence in the sixth inning.
“One-nothing to the sixth inning, against the top players in Canada? Hey, we‘ll take it. We made great defence, and that‘s what it takes to win ball games,” assessed Eagles starting pitcher and Team Canada prospect, Mitch Hardy. “We just fell a little short on hitting, but that‘s all part of it.”
Second baseman John Ellsworth made two laser-like saves and Jamie Betts was flat out in right field when he caught a line drive just inches off the ground.
“Great defence wins ball games, and I know the guys can do it. I said before the game, ‘the boys are going to put the ball in play. I just want you guys behind me.’ And they did 110 per cent. Great job.”
Roy’s homer was followed by a two-run drive and Hardy, who pitches Tuesday for the Charlottetown Fawcetts left the game.
He sympathized with pitcher Steve Bishop who entered the game with O’Leary trailing 4-0.
But Bishop viewed the experience as a pretty special night. Pitching against a Team Canada roster, he said, was something he never thought would happen. “Great experience all around.”
“It was an honour to play; I never thought I’d get to play against Team Canada,” said Betts, who termed it a nice build-up to the nationals. He’s joining Ellsworth and Hardy on the Fawcetts this week. “I’m glad to be playing there, too. I never thought I’d get to play in a men’s nationals..”
Eagles first baseman, Darcy Harris, viewed the game as a good confidence-builder leading into the team’s upcoming title defence at the Eastern Canadian championship. “Quite a few real nice grabs. I think we, maybe once again, might have surprised ourselves, defensively, with how good we are. We’re not there, hitting-wise, but we put the bat on the ball some.”
Going up against pitching like that, it’s exciting, for one, but it’s a little intimidating, too.” Team Canada utilized three pitchers during the game.
For Roy, his sixth inning homer was sweet. He’s played for the New York Gremlins the last three years and wound up playing against Hardy and Jeff Ellsworth who were with the two-time world champions Hill United Chiefs.. “They’re both great ball players,” he acknowledged.