Avalon drops heart­breaker in base­ball fi­nal

Tour­na­ment favourites set­tle for sil­ver af­ter 6-3 loss to St. John’s

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY TERRY ROBERTS THE COM­PASS

They played just one bad in­ning in the en­tire tour­na­ment, but it couldn’t have come at a worst time for the Avalon male base­ball team.

Filled with con­fi­dence af­ter post­ing an un­blem­ished record in the round-robin por­tion of the tour­na­ment at the 2012 NL Sum­mer Games, the Avalon team went into the fi­nal against St. John’s as the odds-on favourite to claim the gold medal.

But a costly sixth in­ning proved to be the team’s undoing as St. John’s ral­lied late in the game to dou­ble Avalon — a team com­prised mainly of play­ers from Con­cep­tion Bay North — 6-3 at Mo­ri­ar­ity Park in Har­bour Grace on the af­ter­noon of Tues­day, Aug. 21.

Early on, Avalon looked to be in con­trol, and jumped out to a 2-0 lead on the strength of a timely hit to cen­tre field by Zachary Par­sons of Bryant’s Cove that drove in two runs.

Blake Fudge of Con­cep­tion Bay South then placed a loop­ing fly ball into cen­tre field the next in­ning to sin­gle in an­other run and put Avalon up 3-0.

The mo­men­tum was clearly on the side of the home team for much of the game, with start­ing pitcher Chris Smith of Spa­niard’s Bay seem­ingly hav­ing his way with the St. John’s bat­ters, with the help of some timely de­fence, in­clud­ing two solid plays at first base by Bradley Riggs of Up­per Is­land Cove to shut down po­ten­tial ral­lies.

But the St. John’s team did not fold, and erupted in their half of the sixth in­ning for six runs, be­gin­ning with a two-run blast off the bat of An­drew Paul that sailed over the cen­tre field fence, nar­row­ing the gap to 3-2.

That’s when the wheels com­pletely fell off for Avalon, with re­lief pitcher Nick Par­sons of Bryant’s Cove strug­gling to find the plate, giv­ing up a hand­ful of walks that al­lowed St. John’s to bust lose with an­other four runs in the in­ning.

It was more than enough to se­cure the vic­tory.

Win­ning pitcher David Ed­wards was steady throughout the game, and was just two outs away from pitch­ing a com­plete game vic­tory.

With Avalon threat­en­ing in the bot­tom of the seventh, re­liever Redmond Hunt took to the mound and over­pow­ered the Avalon hit­ters, blow­ing fast­balls over the plate and nail­ing down the win.

“This is prob­a­bly the best thing that’s hap­pened to me so far in base­ball,” Ed­wards said as he waited to re­ceive his gold medal.

St. John’s coach Brian Fitz­patrick praised his young charges for stay­ing fo­cused, de­spite fail­ing to make good on some op­por­tu­ni­ties early in the game. He said his play­ers were pa­tient and steady, and pounced when the op­por­tu­nity arose in the sixth.

“These guys are bat­tlers all the way,” said Fitz­patrick.

The mood among Avalon play­ers was un­der­stand­ably down­cast.

“I feel a bit mad, but it’s a sil­ver medal. It’s a big ac­com­plish­ment,” said Chris Smith, who car­ried much of the load on the mound for Avalon throughout the tour­ney.

Avalon coach Scott Adams said los­ing the tour­na­ment on one bad in­ning is a tough pill to swal­low, but he said that’s the way the game goes some­times.

“I know they’re all heart­bro­ken right now. Hope­fully next week they’ll look back and say ‘sil­ver wasn’t too bad.’”

When asked about the sixth in­ning col­lapse, Adams steered the blame away from his pitch­ers and onto the um­pires.

Pho­tos by Terry Roberts/the Com­pass

Mem­ber of the Avalon m a l e b a s e b a l l team in­clude: Front ( l- r) — Ste­wart Brazil (Spa­niard’s Bay), Zach Clarke (CBS), Tyler Hen­nessey (CBS), Bradley Riggs ( Up­per Is­land Cove), Blake Fudge (CBS), Brad Porter (CBS); back — coach Randy Hen­nessey ( CBS), Zachary Coombs ( Up­per Is­land Cove), coach Dave Coates ( CBS), Steven Quin­lan ( C B S ) , N i c k Pa r s o n s (Bryant’s Cove), Michael King (Up­per Is­land Cove), Ricky King (Up­per Is­land Cove), coach Scott Adams ( Up­per Is­land Cove), Zachary Par­sons (Up­per Is­land Cove) and Chris Smith (Spa­niard’s Bay).

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