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P.E.I. starts playoffs Thursday with eye on finishing fifth

Team P.E.I. second baseman Matt Lange gets ready to field a ground ball Wednesday at the Canada Games softball competition.
Team P.E.I. second baseman Matt Lange gets ready to field a ground ball Wednesday at the Canada Games softball competition.

WINNIPEG, MAN. – Prince Edward Island pushed undefeated Saskatchewan Wednesday during the final day of preliminary round play at the Canada Games men’s softball competition.

P.E.I. scored five runs in the bottom of the second inning to take a 5-4 lead to the third. Saskatchewan responded with four in the third en route to a 15-6 victory. Saskatchewan improved to 9-0 while P.E.I. is 3-6 as the playoffs begin today with Saskatchewan chasing a medal and the Island squad hoping for a fifth-place finish.

“It was a good opportunity to see where we (stand) against the best in the country,” said pitcher and shortstop Jonathan Arsenault. “They’ve been playing since they were eight and we were playing since we were 16.”

Boys softball was dead in P.E.I. when the decision to bring the sport back to the Canada Games was made a couple of years ago. It had not been played at the Canada Games since 2005.

Nolan Hicken was 3-for-3 to pace Team P.E.I. on Wednesday while Matt Lange, Stephen O’Shea, Ty McAdam and Bret Cheverie each chipped in two hits. Lange had a home run and drove in three runs.

Logan Gallant gave up eight runs on seven hits and two walks in two innings in the loss. Avery Arsenault allowed seven runs on seven hits and six walks in five innings of relief.

James Briand holds on to the base after sliding safely into third Wednesday as Team P.E.I. played Saskatchewan at the Canada Games in Winnipeg.

Parker Ronahan and Arsenault, who have been workhorses for the team this week, got the day off as P.E.I. couldn’t move from its position in the standings.
P.E.I. completed the preliminary round in sixth and begins placement play today at 5 p.m. Atlantic against the winner of the seventh/10th match.
The team has played nine games in five days, a gruelling schedule even before the sweltering heat is factored in.
“It’s been tough, but the boys are battling through it, so hopefully we come out in fifth place,” Arsenault said.

He said it’s been a long week, but a good experience. The team’s schedule and the distance from the athletes’ village have made it all but impossible to see other Island teams compete.

“It’s been ball and food and hotel room,” Arsenault laughed.

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