Cinderella Crusaders!

Jason Simmonds
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Kensington stages improbable run to provincial midget baseball title

SUMMERSIDE – It was an improbable comeback for the ages.

And it helped catapult the Kensington Crusaders to the Baseball P.E.I. provincial midget championship on Sunday.

The Crusaders were trailing by seven runs (8-1) and down to their final strike, when all of a sudden things changed dramatically. Kensington would rally for 11 runs en route to a 12-9 semifinal win over the Cornwall Cougars at Kowalski Field in Freetown.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen 11 runs scored with two outs, maybe six or seven,” admitted Crusaders head coach Dave Montgomery.

Kensington still had some unfinished business, quickly refocused and proceeded to pull out a gritty 6-4 extra-inning win over the Charlottetown Royals in the championship game at Queen Elizabeth Park’s Legends Field. The Crusaders will now represent P.E.I. in this weekend’s Atlantic championship in Morell.

“For a lot of these kids it’s probably their last year of baseball, and it’s a great way to finish,” said Montgomery. “There are a lot of good athletes, a lot of winners on the team, guys that want to win. That’s what it boiled down to.”

Didn’t expect to rally

The Crusaders, though, had all but conceded defeat against the Cougars. When asked if he could have envisioned such a rally, Kensington shortstop Kyle Pinksen commented: “Not even close. We were joking around and whenever we got a couple of runs we got right serious, and knew it was a game.”

Pinksen, who actually tried switch-hitting for a pitch in the top of the seventh inning against Cornwall, started the rally with a base hit over shortstop. Parker Ronahan and Matt Crozier followed with singles; Dylan Montgomery walked; Matthew Marchbank was hit by a pitch; Campbell Gallant, Colby Profitt and Riley Gallant drew three straight free passes; Jordan Montgomery and Drew Grady connected for back-to-back singles, and Pinksen launched a three-run blast in his second at-bat of the inning.

“The pitch was perfect for me, and I connected well,” said Pinksen.

Gallant shines on mound

Riley Gallant earned the pitching win in relief, and then fired 5 1/3 shutout innings against Charlottetown before giving way to Ronahan, who gutted out the pitching win.

“For a guy who has only pitched three innings all season, that was remarkable,” said Coach Montgomery in praising Riley Gallant.

Once again, Pinksen delivered the key hit in the final – a two-out double that scored two runs in the top of the eighth inning.

“There was a lot of pressure for me,” said Pinksen. “I felt it in my chest.

“The pitch, again, was right there and I connected, and it went in the right spot.”

Pinksen also turned in a nice defensive play for the first out in the bottom of the eighth inning, quickly moving to his left to field a ground ball cleanly and throw a strike to first.

“I thought it was going to be tougher than it was,” said Pinksen. “It took a nice hop up to my chest, and I just had to finish the throw after that.”

Escapes jam

After Ryan MacIsaac’s two-run single to right field with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning tied the game 4-4, the Royals loaded the bases but Ronahan was able to work his way out of the jam to send the game to extra innings.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen 11 runs scored with two outs, maybe six or seven." Crusaders head coach Dave Montgomery

“The kids got right back at the bats and did what they had to do, score a couple of runs, and get us right back on top,” said Dave Montgomery. “They didn’t get down, came right back and responded.”

The Royals threatened again in the bottom of the eighth and had runners on first and second when Ronahan was able to reach back over his head, field a high chopper and throw to first for the final out.

Twitter.com/JpsportsJason

Scores

Baseball P.E.I. provincial

midget championship scores:

Friday, Aug. 22

Round Robin

Northside 10 Kensington 3

Summerside 8 Cardigan 2

Stratford 3 Cornwall 0

Charlottetown 6 Bedeque 1

Saturday, Aug. 23

Round Robin

Kensington 6 Summerside 2

Cardigan 7 Northside 2

Northside 4 Summerside 3 (8 innings)

Kensington 4 Cardigan 2

Charlottetown 13 Stratford 3

Cornwall 4 Bedeque 1

Charlottetown 13 Cornwall 2

Bedeque 11 Stratford 9

Sunday, Aug. 24

Semifinals

Kensington 12 Cornwall 9

Charlottetown 4 Northside 2

Final

Kensington 6 Charlottetown 4 (8 innings)

Geographic location: Kensington, Freetown, Queen Elizabeth Park Morell Charlottetown

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