Up to the chal­lenge

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

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - Ja­son Mal­loy

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.

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.

JA­SON MAL­LOY/THE GUARDIAN

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

JA­SON MAL­LOY/THE GUARDIAN

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.

Arse­nault

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