SUMMERSIDE – It was a game that seemed like it would never end!
The Charlottetown Royals scored a single run in the bottom of the 16th inning to edge the Woodlawn Wildcats 2-1 in the championship game of the Summerside bantam AAA tip-off baseball tournament on Sunday. The deciding game started at 9 a.m., and stretched into the early afternoon.
“It was a great defensive battle, both sides pitched well and there wasn't a whole lot of hitting,” said Royals head coach Jeff May. “The boys came through in the clutch in the 16th inning. It was a long game, but the guys stuck with it.”
At Queen Elizabeth Park’s Legends Field, Connor Jones hit a two-out flare into no-man’s land behind third base on the edge of the infield that plated Zach Thibideau from third base with the game-winning run, setting off a wild on-field celebration for the Royals behind first base.
“Connor has been struggling a bit at the plate early on, and it was good to see him cash in,” said May.
First-year bantam Thomas Harper threw four shutout innings of relief to earn the pitching win.
“He’s (Harper) a battler,” said May. “You always know what you are going to get from Thomas. He’s always battling hard, and willing to do anything for the team.”
Charlottetown starter Ryan Cameron worked 7 2/3 innings while Kallum Muirhead and Johnny Savidant also provided scoreless relief pitching.
With pitchers on pitch counts and the Royals playing a P.E.I. Bantam AAA Baseball League game on Monday night, the coaching staff was faced with the task of managing the pitching.
“At the end of it our pitching was pretty well done,” admitted May. “We had a couple of guys who could still throw, but we were going to go with Thomas as long as he could keep going for us. He hung in there.”
Both teams had glorious chances to either take the lead or score the winning run. The Wildcats, who are from the Dartmouth, N.S., area, failed to score in the top of the seventh inning after having runners on second and third and no outs.
The Wildcats had back-to-back singles to start the 14 inning, but Harper was able to escape trouble.
In the top of the 16th inning, Royals catcher Gavin Hickey gunned down two attempted steals of second base to help set the stage for the game-winning rally.
The Royals, meanwhile, had the winning run thrown out at home plate in the bottom of the 11th frame, and stranded runners on the corners in the 13th. Charlottetown also had the winning run called out at the plate on the play before the winning run scored.
Overall, the Royals completed round-robin play at 3-0-1 (won-lost-tied) while the Wildcats were 2-0-2. The top two teams after the five-team round robin met in the championship game.
“I thought they played fantastic for the first tournament of the year,” assessed May. “We just picked our team and our first games were in the tournament here. . . Things are looking pretty good for the year.”
Summerside bantam AAA
baseball tournament scores:
Friday, May 30
Charlottetown Royals 8 Summerside Chevys 3
Charlottetown Royals 4 Woodlawn Wildcats 4
Cardigan Clippers 9 Riverview A’s 6
Woodlawn Wildcats 13 Riverview A’s 0
Summerside Chevys 14 Cardigan Clippers 1
Saturday, May 31
Charlottetown Royals 14 Riverview A’s 4
Summerside Chevys 4 Woodlawn Wildcats 4
Charlottetown Royals 9 Cardigan Clippers 7
Summerside Chevys 9 Riverview A’s 7
Woodlawn Wildcats 11 Cardigan Clippers 1
Sunday, June 1
Charlottetown Royals 2 Woodlawn Wildcats 1 (16 innings)