COMPLETE RECAP: Expos Cap Off a Season to Remember with SILVER at the BC (Minor) Baseball Provincial Championships
Posted August 6, 2016
With an 18-14 record after league play and failing to place top 7, the Expos headed to the dreaded Wild Card Tournament where they ran the table and clinched a provincial berth punching their ticket to Nanaimo, BC as the 8th seeded team in the BC (Minor) Baseball Provincials. The Expos got a tough draw and was faced with the task of coming out top 2 in a pool that included (1) Abbotsford, (4) Victoria Black, (5) Richmond and (9) Tri City. Here's how it all unfolded:
Round Robin #1: EXPOS 2 Abbotsford 3
The Vancouver Minor Expos had arguably the toughest draw and the toughest schedule for the provincials. They had to stay the night before the first day of provincials and had the "luxury" of playing the league's top team (Abbotsford) in the first official game of the 2016 provincials. Game one of the provincials pitted Tim Blake's #1 seeded Abbotsford Angels versus the 8th seeded wild card Vancouver Expos. Blake (Abbotsford's Manager) like many managers did on day 1 of the provincials wanted to get their team off on the right foot so he sent his ace to toe the rubber ("The G.O.A.T", Kevin Kim) while Yam went in a slightly different direction and sent the youngest kid of his staff, a November 2002 baby, Vicarte Domingo to oppose him. Kim opened the 2016 provincials off in impressive fashion as he struck out the Vancouver side all in order and on 9 pitches in what Delta's manager (Frick) would call "one of the most dominant innings he has seen from a pitcher". In the bottom of the 1st, Abbotsford would jump out to a 1-nothing lead thanks to an RBI single by Dick who scored Peters from second who got on via. HBP. The bottom of the 4th saw the Angels score another run to give themselves a 2 run cushion. Ellis came in to relieve Domingo in the 5th and with the bases loaded and none out, Ellis was able to limit the Abbotsford offence to 1 run, a SAC fly by Peters was the only run Abbotsford could scratch across. 3-0 Abby after 6.
Meanwhile, Kim looked stronger as the game went along, "The G.O.A.T" would strike out 5 of the first 6 batters, strike out the side once again in the 4th and 5th innings, his strikeout total after 6 innings stood at an astonishing 13; Kim had still not allowed a batter to reach base through 6 complete innings.
With Vancouver down to their last 3 outs and Kim reaching his 75 pitch count limit, Betonio lead off the inning with a clean infield bunt single, with Betonio hustling down the line, determined to breakup Kim's perfect game, the ace pitcher's throw to first was a tad late as Blake took a slow walk out to the mound and relieved Kim with Draayers due to pitch count (75 pitches). The first batter Draayers faced was the Richmond Bantam AAA snub, the powerful Nathaniel Antiporda who on a 3-2 count smashed a line drive home run to dead centre that landed at least 350 feet and rolled to the deep Serauxmen Stadium centre field wall. Draayers, Blake, Kim and the rest of Abbotsford was in shock as with one swing the Expos now had the tying run standing at the plate in the form of starting pitcher Domingo. Domingo, who pitched well in the start would fly out for the first out. However, the Expos weren't done, Hutchings would hit a single with 1 out and steal 2nd on a 3-2 count, but an error by catcher Snow overthrowing 2nd base on ball 4 had Hutchings standing on 3rd while Baybay standing on 1st. A missed signal had Horino (now pinch running for Baybay) standing on 2nd via. the stolen base as the go ahead run. Dick now in the game relieving Draayers got Fukuda to pop up in foul territory to the catcher. With 2 outs, Hutchings had serious thoughts of stealing home off lefty Dick but both Yam and Hutchings thought better and let Ellis try to come up clutch but Ellis looked overmatched as Dick sat him down to end the ballgame on 3 pitches.
The Expos had lost game 1 of the provincials by 1 (3-2) against the top team in the league. The Vancouver coaching staff had the players keep their heads up as they knew that the players battled hard and took the best team in the league until the end, it wasn't nerves because the aggressiveness at the plate was there, the defence and pitching was there sometimes you just have to say the other pitcher was better than us, and that was the case today. Unfortunately, there is a winner and a loser, sometimes it just doesn't go your way, but it's all about how you bounce back and the Expos would do just that in the games to follow.
Game MVP: #4 Nathaniel Antiporda
1/3 with an explosive 2 run HR in the 7th to cut to deficit to 1
Round Robin #2: EXPOS 6 VictoriaBlack 4
A new day at the 2016 Bantam AAA provincials, the Expos looking to rebound from a tough 3-2 loss against Abbotsford. It didn't get any easier as today was their double header day and first opponent was the Black Eagles. Mabee (Victoria's Manager) and his Victoria Eagles were also looking to rebound today after losing 4-0 at the hands of the Richmond Chuckers on day 1 of the provincials. Yam sent his ace to mound, Hutchings, as Mabee in a surprising decision sent Kelley to the mound, a pitcher the Expos had not seen this year. The bottom of the 1st saw Hutchings start slow as he walked leadoff batter and arguably the fastest kid on the island, Joshua Walker. Victoria would score 2 runs off a groundout and a pass ball to go up 2-nothing early. Vancouver would get 1 back in the top half of the 2nd as Baybay would double with 2 outs and eventually score on a wild pitch to make it 2-1 VicBlack after 2. Hutchings as he is known for would settle down after a shaky first inning as he retired 11 of the next 12 batters. The Expos would score 2 in their offensive half of the 4th, Domingo started off the inning with a single, which was followed by Hutchings would promptly singled himself, a SAC bunt had runners at 2nd and 3rd for Baybay. Baybay would get the job done on a groundout, Horino would then clutch up for a single to LF, scoring Hutchings and giving Vancouver a narrow one run lead.
Hutchings pitching well in to the 5th on a strict 75 pitch count limit, retired the frist two batters with ease but on an 0-2 count Vancouver's ace hit pinch-hitter Jansch in the back with a knuckleball extending the inning for starting pitcher Kelley who was looking to help his Victoria Eagles take the lead with one swing. That he did, on a 2-2 count Kelley got fooled by Hutchings' curve but had enough muscle to loft it out of the ballpark, hitting the top of the fence and landing on the other side for a 2 run home run. Black was now up 1 after 5. No one crossed the plate for both teams in the 6th, Victoria's reliever Baan-Meiklejohn stranded runners on 2nd and 3rd getting Howse to pop up to end the threat; while Howse (now relieving Hutchings) simlarly did the same thing he stranded runners 2nd and 3rd by striking out his counterpart Baan-Meiklejohn to prevent Victoria from scoring any insurance runs. This would prove to be huge.
In the 7th, with Vancouver again down to their last 3 outs, Yamamoto popped out to the second baseman for the 1st out. It would Betonio, Vancouver's leadoff batter to get the rally started as he would single up the middle, Betonio would then advance into scoring position thanks to a pass ball. Antiporda worked a walk to set up runners at 1st and 2nd with Domingo up. In another surprising decision, Mabee opted to go with Baldonaza to close things out. With Baldonaza not checking his runners and so focused on throwing a strike to Domingo, Yam had his runners execute a very high risk double steal on a 2-0 count with Vancouver's 3 batter up, Betonio and Antiporda executed it perfectly as Victoria's opportunity at a groundball double play was gone and the Expos now had the tying run just 80 feet away. Domingo would then work a base on balls to set up bases loaded for Vancouver's 4 batter, the club's best hitter Damon Hutchings who was still on the hook for the loss as the starting pitcher. Hutchings took a huge cut at a 2-0 Baldonaza offering just swinging under it, the 2-1 pitch saw Hutchings get jammed on an inside fastball making it a 2-2 count on the Vancouver co-captain. Hutchings would get the better of Baldonaza as he cut down on his swing and used the middle of the field, singling up the middle scoring two runs to take the lead. Inomata would single himself to plate Domingo. With Hutchings now on 3rd and Inomata on 2nd, Baybay hit a shallow fly to RF and Hutchings decided to test the arm of Shinozuka (the right fielder), the throw didnt even reach home plate but after the appeal the umpires ruled that Hutchings left early from 3rd and was called out, Vancouver obviously saw it differently but it is what it is. Vancouver 6 Victoria 4 after 6 1/2.
Easton Howse now in line for the win would show shades of Kevin Kim as it would only take the former Trout Lake Little Leaguer 13 pitches to strike out the side giving Vancouver their first win in the provincials and dropping Victoria to 0-2 to start the provincials.
Game MVP: #33 Damon Hutchings
5 IP, 3 H, 4 R 3 ER, 4 K
2-4 with a 2 RBI single in the 7th that scored the game-tying and eventual game-winning run
Round Robin #3: EXPOS 15 Richmond 1
Coming into tonight's contest versus the Richmond Chuckers, the Expos had an ugly 1-4 record (including Exhibition and Tournament Play) vs. Klenman's Chuckers and had been outscored 22-51 in those 5 games. Oddmakers had Klenman and his veteran Richmond squad taking this game in decisive fashion, especially since Richmond was already rolling with a 2 wins to kick off the 2016 provincials both against teams seeded higher than them, VictoriaBlack and Abbotsford respectively. What happened in this match, no one expected...a 15-1 route of the Chuckers, yes 15-1 in favour of the Expos. Vancouver struck early and often in this contest, as the away team the Expos advantage to hit first and have Richmond's top second-year pitcher, Suessenbacher-Fu (Su-Fu) toe the rubber first. Su-Fu and the Richmond defence was shaky early as the tall righty walked Antiporda, Howells let Domingo reach on error and the first pitch delivered to Hutchings was a curveball that hit him. Before Su-Fu could blink he was faced with ecaping out of a bases loaded 1 out jam, Inomata and Baybay hit back-to-back singles each scoring 1 run, making it 2-0. After a Fukuda RBI groundout and an Ellis RBI single,Vancouver not only sent their entire 9 man lineup to the plate but were up 4 before Vancouver's starter (Inomata) could throw a pitch.
Klenmans were shocked and so was most of the baseball world, Inomata the crafty righty got the start for Vancouver and pitched well with the lead. After two errors by the Vancouver third baseman, Yam didn't want to give any momentum to the Chuckers so he made a sub at 3B as the Expos would only let Richmond respond with 1 run in the bottom half of the inning. 4-1 Expos after 1.
The Expos kept their foot on the gas pedal as 2 more runs plated in the 2nd off reliever Moscovitz, a single and double to lead off the inning had Vancouver poised to strike, a SAC fly by Domingo and Thorsteinson error on a Hutchings' groundball had Vancouver up 5 after 2. The third inning was similar for the Expos this time off new reliever Howells, a Betonio RBI single and Antiporda SAC fly had the Expos up 8-1 after 3.
In the 4th, Vancouver went for the jugular and scored 6 in the inning off relievers Howells and Finkelstein, Baybay's RBI single, double steal by Baybay/Fukuda and a 2 run double by Betonio highlighted the 6 run 4th. Richmond showed some fight in the 4th and had runners at 1st and 2nd with 1 out but an inning-ending line drive shot off the bat of Suessenbacher-Fu straight to Baybay's glove who turned an unassisted double play had Vancouver pumped once again. Vancouver tacked one more on in the 5th to make it hurt, Hutchings reached first on a dribbler that hit a rock and went over Castle's (Richmond's 5th pitcher of the game) glove...it was just that kind of day for the Chuckers, later in the inning a dropped routine fly in LF off the bat of Horino scored Hutchings, it was officially a blowout 15-1 Expos with 3 outs to go.
With 3 outs to go before the mercy rule would come in effect, the Chuckers looked stunned, the Klenman's were pissed off at multiple things and Vancouver would make the Chuckers feel even worse as Ellis with the bases loaded would strike out Houston to end the ball game, 15-1 Expos over Richmond in 5 innings. Who would have thought this could happen, after nothing went Vancouver's way in the first 4 meetings with Klenman's Chuckers everything went Vancouver's way in this contest, really everything...now Vancouver had put themselves in a position to clinch first in the pool with a win against Tri City tomorrow.
Game MVP: #2 Yoshiki Inomata
4 IP, 2 H, 1 R 0 ER, 3 K
2-4, 1 R and 1 RBI
Round Robin #4: TriCity 1 EXPOS 6
The last game of Pool A had the Tri City Indians up against the Vancouver Minor Expos. It was simple math for the game, winner goes to semis, loser heads home, no runs against calculations, no tiebreaker games. After taking down two powerhouse teams, Victoria and Richmond it came to a shock that the Expos still had to beat the always tough Indians to advance to Sunday. At the beginning of Saturday, there were 8 scenarios and only 1 of the 8 scenarios had a Vancouver loss eliminate them for competing on Sunday the other 7 scenarios had Vancouver potentially advancing to Sunday even with a loss against the Indians. No one said it was going to get easier, so it was the Pawlick/Mundle lead Indians against the Yam lead Expos in a win or go home matchup. Even it being their second game of the day, there was definitely no shortage of energy from Blight and his Tri City squad. Domingo was given the start for the Expos as Tri City sent the hard throwing righty Stanyer to the bump. Many spectators were on hand for this win or go home matchup, including Richmond, Victoria and just under 20 viewers back home via. the iScore stream.
With Vancouver being the home team for the first time this provincials, Domingo looked very shaky and nervous early as he walked Sugi to lead off the game, a perfectly executed hit and run and hit by pitch had Tri City with the bases juiced and none out. A Blight fielder's choice scored a run but Domingo would retire the final two outs of the inning via. punchouts as he once again showed emotion knowing he escaped out of a big threat only giving up a single run. Stanyer shut down the Expos in bottom half of the inning to keep it at 1-0 after 1.
The top half of the 2nd saw Domingo reitre Stanyer on 3 pitches, just when Domingo looked to have recovered from a shaky first inning he walked the 9 batter T.J Wilson putting him at 40 pitches. Yam made the tough call to pull Domingo to have him available tomorrow (even though there might not be a tomorrow) and went to Horino, who was making his first pitching appearance in the provincials. The move to go to Horino and backstop Domingo would prove to be the most important decision of the game. Horino would strand the bases loaded including the inherited runner at 3rd as he got Letteri to strike out and Blight to ground out keeping the game at a narrow 1-0 lead for the Indians.
A quick 1-2-3 inning in the 3rd by Horino had the Expos ready to strike in the bottom half of the 3rd, Betonio who has proved to be a nuisance to opposition pitching this provincials again led off the inning with a base knock to get things started. During the Antiporda at-bat Betonio managed to steal 2nd and 3rd, Antiporda would walk putting runners on the corners with none out, Antiporda would straight steal 2nd putting runners on second and third, none out with Domingo up. Domingo would flare a ball into Blight's direction in RF, the ball would drop scoring Betonio from 3rd and Blight's throw to home would be cut off catching Domingo in a rundown between 1st and 2nd, Antiporda would score while Tri City was occupied with Domingo in the rundown, Domingo was tagged out in the rundown but pumped his fist knowing he just put his team up 1 with an RBI single and he also bought enough time in the rundown for Antiporda to score from 3rd. The Expos weren't done there Hutchings would be hit by the pitch, steal 2nd advance to 3rd on an error by new Tri City catcher Watt (who replaced Norris who appeared to injure his elbow on a throw down the 2nd earlier in the inning), Inomata would promptly drive Hutchings in thanks a SAC fly to RF. Expos 4 TriCity 1 after 3.
Vancouver would tack on a run in the 5th and 6th, the 5th inning run came courtesy of a Hutchings' home run who on a 2-2 count hit a fastball at shoulder level for a moonshot dinger. Horino would lead off the 7th with a double to LF and later cross home thanks to a Betonio double with 2 outs. Expos 6 TriCity 1 after 6 complete.
In his only pitching appearance of the provincial championships, Horino was simply dominant throwing 5 2/3 innings of relief in 80 pitches allowing 0 runs and striking out 6 Indian batters. The former Kerrisdale little leaguer has had an up and down year but showed today that he was one of the main reasons why Vancouver would be advancing to the crossover on Sunday. #9 wearing the dark blue wasn't blowing the ball by any batters but showed unbelievable command of the strike zone he was able to keep batters off-balance all game and induce weak contact to an Expos defence behind him that made 0 errors, just a stellar performance. With Klenman and his Richmond squad looking on, the win now faced Richmond with the task of playing Delta in the semis, a team who has had their number all year. After a tough tough round robin schedule, the Expos came out on top they finished first in their pool when no one expected them to and had a date with the 2nd in Pool B, their crosstown rivals, the Vancouver Community Mounties.
Game MVP: #9 Kantaro Horino
5 2/3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 6 K
2-2, 2B, 1 R and 1 RBI
Semi Final: VancouverCommunity 0 EXPOS 2
It wasn't the final four everyone expected, 3 of the top 4 seeds (1Abbotsford, 2CowichanValley and 4VictoriaBlack) ended their season on Saturday while the four ball clubs who represented Zone 5 in the BC Summer Games were the only teams left battling for the coveted provincial title. With the Vancouver Minor Expos and Richmond Chuckers holding identical 3-1 records in Pool A, both clubs advanced to the crossover on Sunday. The Vancouver Minor Expos came out on top in Pool A as they held the tiebreaker over the Richmond Chuckers due to head-to-head record in round robin. In Pool B, the Delta Tigers and Vancouver Community Mounties both advanced to Sunday's crossover, similar to Pool A both clubs had 3-1 records after round robin but Delta held the tiebreaker (head-to-head) over Vancouver Community. And there you go, it was set your final 4; the crosstown rivals Vancouver's West Side vs. East Side and over in the other crossover a heated rivalry was set to conclude in 2016 with the Tigers taking on the Chuckers, fans were hard-pressed to choose between which game to watch, in the end both matches would live up to their hype and provide thrilling semifinal action on a Sunday in Nanaimo.
Minor came in to this game with a disappointing 1-4 record (including exhibition) against their crosstown rival Mounties all games being close games including two league games that had Community over Minor by a couple runs in both contests. It was bound to be a very tight well pitched matchup, Yam sent his ace Hutchings to the bump in the pivotal semifinal matchup as Smythe (Community's Manager) marked Hunter down as his starter. Both Hutchings and Hunter had battled against each other for 7 innings in a mid-June league game, Community was able to scratch across 2 runs off Hutchings that game while Minor could not generate any offence against Hunter, 2-0 was the final from that game. It was a rematch and this time a spot in the Championship Final was on the line.
Things undoubtedly did not start off the way Hutchings and his Expos wanted to as the ace of the Expos had himself treading in deep waters early. Hutchings walked Peterson (Community's leadoff hitter) on 4 pitches that weren't even remotely close to the strike zone, right away things started to look very reminiscent of the mid-June league game where Community scored both their 2 runs thanks to free passes from Hutchings. Peterson, was obviously jacked up as he was looking to cross the plate first for his Mounties, maybe a little too jacked up as while leading off on first Peterson was bouncing up, down, left and right trying to distract Minor's ace. It would prove to be a very unintelligent move on Peterson's part as Hutchings would catch Community's leadoff guy "bouncing" in the wrong direction and pick him off with his "C" move, the first base umpire who had a great view right behind the 1st base bag (3-man system) emphatically called Peterson out, as Thornley (Community's first base coach), Peterson and the entire Mounties group were stunned; Minor's coaches and spectators erupted with fist bumps and cheers as Peterson walked back with his head down to the Serauxmen dugout in disbelief. Before Hutchings could even throw a strike in this game he had 1 out, Hutchings would walk the next batter in line, this time no "jumping around" from S. Black at 1st. A error by the Expos' second baseman had Community feeling the effects of the picked off Peterson but still poised to strike with runners at 1st and 2nd and 1 out. Things wouldn't get any better for Hutch as the runners would move up 80 feet due to a balk call, with Yam knowing runs were going to come at a premium in this game, the Minor manager was forced to bring his infield in with one of the best first-year hitters Pegg up to bat. Hutchings didn't need any help from his defence as he would strike out Pegg looking then Saul swinging to end the inning, the Expos' ace would clench his fist and yell as he sprinted back to the dugout giving his manager a fist bump on the way in.
Hunter would sit the Minor side down in order as he would K 2 of the 3 batters to begin the ballgame. Hutchings looked to have settled down in the 2nd as he would strike out Thornley and his summer games teammate, C. Black to start the 2nd; however, would see Perry hit a 1-0 knuckleball that didn't "dance" enough to LF for a double. The extra base hit would become moot as Hutchings would sit Lott down on strikes to strike out the side giving him a total of 5 strikeouts in 2 innings. It was deadlocked at zeros through 3 1/2 innings as Hutchings and Hunter both seemed to be dialed in, both teams not making the necessary adjustments to have success against their opposition starter until the bottom of the 4th.
Second time through the order for the Expos, Betonio (Minor's leadoff hitter) had been scorching hot this provincial tournament, in 4 round robin games Betonio was leading the team with 7 hits (7/15 .467) and 6 stolen bags coming into today's semifinal matchup. The leadoff hitter for Canada at the 2014 Little League World Series was again looking to be the catalyst for the Expos squad who was 1/9 against Hunter first time through the order. On a 2-1 hitter's count Betonio took a long look down to 3rd base, he wasn't looking for signs from the third base coach but rather where Thornley (Community's 3rd baseman) was positioned. On the fourth pitch of the at-bat delivered from Hunter saw Betonio lay down a perfect bunt that made the pitcher field the bunt on the 3rd base side of the infield, the throw from Hunter was not only late but airmailed over Community's first baseman, Saul, with that Betonio was "stirring it up" at 2nd with none out. Despite the wrong signal, Antiporda would move Betonio 80 feet away from home with a successful sacrifice bunt. With the Mounties' defence now in, Domingo would take advantage of a first pitch fastball mistake from Hunter and drive it up the middle scoring the first run of the game, 1-0 Expos after 4.
Community's six batter, Thornley would look to respond for the Mounties as he led off the inning hitting a single up the middle on a 3-2 fastball offering from Hutchings. It seemed that Community had still not learned their lesson with one of the most deadliest southpaws in the league on the bump as Thornley, the tying run got caught looking the other way thinking Hutchings wasn't picking off on an 0-2 count, and the next thing Thornley saw was a ball in Ellis' (Minor's first baseman) glove as he was easily tagged out at 2nd for the first out of the inning. Two strikeouts sandwiched a walk to end the inning bringing Hutchings' K total up to 9 after 5.
Hutchings would get the first two batters of the 6th, his counterpart Hunter via. strikeout and pinch hitter Chia to groundout on the U3; Howse would come fresh from the 'pen to relieve Hutchings due to max pitch count and retire S. Black on a 5-3 putout. Just a masterful outing for Hutchings in his final Bantam pitching appearance for Vancouver Minor; 5.67 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 10 K now he could only hope his team could hold on for the victory.
The bottom of the 6th saw the 2016 Vancouver Community Bantam AAA snub, Betonio, once again burn his former club as Hunter would graze Betonio and put the speedy leadoff hitter on with the HBP. The Vancouver Minor import, Betonio would swipe 2nd with ease as Antiporda would K for the 1st out of the inning. On a 1-0 count to Domingo, Domingo and Betonio would execute a beautiful fake bunt and steal as Crossfield, Community's shortstop finished second to Betonio in the race to 3rd base, no throw from Community's catcher had Betonio 80 feet from making this a 2-0 game. With Community deploying the Pawlick trademarked 5DLS defence (pull fielder holds the runner at 3rd and the 3rd baseman plays in expecting a squeeze bunt) Domingo on a full count offering from Hunter would hit a sacrifice fly to Pegg in right field scoring Betonio easily from 3rd.
With 3 outs to go, Hutchings in line for the win and Howse in line for the save it would prove to be a very dramatic 7th for all spectators who came to watch the Vancouver-Vancouver semifinal. Crossfield would groundout to Inomata for the first out of the inning. Pegg, the Vancouver Minor Peewee AAA graduate would not make it easy on his former club as the first-year Mountie would drive a 2-2 offering from Howse back where it came from for a 1 out single. Saul would follow that up with a double to the opposite field gap from the first pitch he saw from Howse, that extra-base hit putting runners on second and third with 1 out. Thornley on the first pitch from Howse was plunked in the back, loading the bases. While Fukumura (Minor's assistant coach) made a quick mound visit to reassure Howse to trust his stuff, Smythe made a surprising move pinch hitting Gunning, cold off the bench for BC Summer Games representative, Cason Black. It would take Howse 4 pitches to sit down Gunning via. a swinging strikeout on an outside and high fastball. It was now all in the hands of Bantam AAA returnee, the player who chose VCB Bantam AAA over PBL this year, Aiden Perry. With 2 outs, it took 8 pitches, 2 foul balls on a 3-2 count but on inside fastball Howse got Perry to pop up weakly in between Inomata and Yamamoto, Yamamoto called Inomata off and made the awkward catch sealing the ballgame and securing a spot in the final for the Expos. Players from Vancouver Minor mobbed Yamamoto and Howse, coaches from Vancouver Minor "high 10'd", just a truly spectacular semifinal game at Serauxmen Stadium, 2-0 Vancouver "East Side" Expos over Vancouver "West Side" Mounties.
Game MVP: #27 Easton Howse
1.33 IP, SV, 2 H, 0 R, 1 K (worked out of a bases loaded jam in the 7th with 1 out and the tying run at 2nd)
Championship Final: Delta 8 EXPOS 5
With Delta's exciting bottom of the 7th win off a suicide squeeze against their rival Richmond Chuckers, the championship final was set, the two youngest managers in the league were set to square off, Frick's Tigers against Yam's Expos. It had already been quite the season for both clubs, Frick led his Delta squad to gold at the RCBA Queen Victoria Invitational as well as a very respectable 4th place finish after league play; meanwhile, the Expos in their two U.S.A tournaments had placed 1st and 2nd respectively and clinched a spot in provincials after running the table at the wildcard tournament. The last time these two teams met was in a early May double header in which Delta took both games from Vancouver, Delta after the two games clearly looked like the better team. But this championship matchup was 99 days after that sunny day in Tsawwassen, a lot of improvements had been made for both clubs in 99 days, ya...it wasn't the two teams everyone envisioned in the final (well, definitely not the Vancouver Expos) but one thing's for sure, these two ballclubs were the best this weekend and that's why both were now 21 outs away from hoisting a provincial championship banner.
Howse after closing out the semifinal game against Community in 22 pitches was still fresh so the tall righty got the nod against a hard-hitting Delta team who averaged just over 6 runs for a game in league play. Sasaki, the crafty 2nd year Bantam AAA southpaw was penciled in as Delta's starter, and with that it was on. With Vancouver winning the coin flip and opting to choose home, Howse toed the rubber and threw a first pitch strike to Delta's leadoff hitter and counterpart Sean Sasaki. A 3-2 fastball delivered by Howse on the inside corner caught Sasaki looking for the first out of the championship ballgame, Howse would go on to strikeout Miller in 4 pitches and retire Romaniuk on the first pitch he saw, just like that it took Howse 11 pitches to get Vancouver back in the dugout. Sasaki would almost match Howse's top of the 1st as it took him 12 pitches to retire Vancouver's 1-2-3 hitters, as the first inning proved to be uneventful for both clubs.
The top of the 2nd saw Cassie, the second year vet hit a hard grounder to the backhand side of SS that went under the glove of Yamamoto, the official scorer would charge Yamamoto with his first error of provincials. Like all good shortstops do, they let the pitcher know that it was on them and only hope for a groundball to make up for the error. Yamamoto got his wish as the very next pitch saw Browne ground the ball up the middle of the infield, straight into the U6-3 double play. The bottom of the 2nd saw the Expos get their first hit of the ballgame, Inomata pulled a ball down the 1st base line off the glove of a sprawling Browne for a 1-out double; however, Inomata would be stranded in scoring position as Sasaki would retire the next two hitters to keep the score deadlocked at zeros after 2.
The third inning saw multiple runs put up by both teams, Howse would plunk Euerby on a 0-1 fastball then could only watch Vancouver's third baseman call him off on a sac bunt and throw the ball past the first baseman and into the away team's bullpen, Euerby scored all the way from 1st while Wilson (Delta's 9 batter) reached 3rd on what would be ruled an E5 on an intended sacrifice bunt. Sasaki would score Wilson from 3rd on a sacrifice fly in foul territory, making it 2-0 for Frick and his Delta TIgers. Down a couple runs, Yamamoto who had been slumping at the plate as of late would single through the left side to kick off the offensive 3rd, Betonio would continue his hot streak at the plate with a single himself putting 2 runners on for the powerful Nathaniel Antiporda. Antiporda would sit on a 0-1 curveball that ended up hanging and crushed it to left field clearing not just the temporary Bantam fence, not just the Serauxmen Stadium green wall but even multiple rows of parked cars in the gravel parking lot, the ball claimed to have landed 375 ft. and rolled just past 400 ft. Many jaws dropped at the massive bomb Antiporda had just hit including Connor Baily, Delta's left fielder who turned and watched in astonishment. Antiporda, who was wearing the red helmet courtesy of AA player, Mats Fukuoka (after smashing his own in the dugout due to his "poor performance at the plate following the semi final game") rounded the bases with his right arm held high and was mobbed at home plate by his teammates, the three run home run now now had the Expos up 3-2 on the Tigers.
Delta would respond quickly in the 4th as Cassie would reach base on a shallow flyball that had miscommunication written all over it, everyone watched gingerly as Baybay (2B) and Antiporda (RF) would collide putting the leadoff man on 2nd with none out. Delta would score two runs in the inning thanks to back-to-back RBI singles by Baily and MacLeod before Euerby would hit a line drive to Antiporda in RF who then doubled up MacLeod at 1st who was running on the pitch. Delta 4 Expos 3 after 3 1/2 innings. With 1 out and the starting pitcher for the Expos, Howse standing on 1st after a single, Yam decided to have Vancouver's 9 batter, Yamamoto lay down a sacrifice bunt to advance Howse to 2nd and take his chances with Betonio at the plate and 2 out. With Vancouver's hottest hitter at the plate, Betonio got a hold of a 0-1 fastball offering from Sasaki and drove it to the right-center gap but Betonio would shortly tip his cap as MacLeod would make an outstanding diving catch to rob Betonio of potential extra bases but more importantly halt the tying run from crossing the plate, keeping the game at 4-3 Delta after 4.
We jump to the 6th where Howse and Sasaki were both still on the bump for their repsective clubs, Delta would plate 4 runs in the 6th highlighted by a Baily 2-run double that would spell the end of Howse's day, Delta's MacLeod and Wilson would both hit RBI singles off reliever Ellis to cap off the big inning for the Tigers. The bottom of the 6th was quick as Sasaki retired the side on 5 pitches, while Inomata (Vancouver's new reliever) would put up a zero in his inning to keep the score at 8-3 Delta after 6 1/2 innings.
Down to their final 3 outs, Betonio would lead off the 7th with a single, his second hit of the day pushed his hit total to double digits (10) in the provincials. Antiporda and Domingo would both be retired by Sasaki leaving it in the hands of Hutchings, Delta 1 out away from being provincial champs. By now, all teams should know the scrappy Expos don't go down without a fight, the final inning of this provincial championships had been a pain for the opposing team, the Expos had outscored their opponents 6-0 in the final inning of each game. With McDougall now in for Sasaki due to pitch count and the Expos down to their last strike, Hutchings (the lone Vancouver Minor representative for Frick's Zone 5 Summer Games team) in an 0-2 count hit a high fastball to deep center for a 2 run home run that now had the Expos within 3 runs. The very next batter for the Expos, Inomata would reach base and advance to second on an error by the Delta's second baseman but the ROE would become moot as Baybay would whiff on a high fastball to end the ballgame as Frick and his Delta Tigers celebrated the victory. 8-5 Delta Final.
Game and Tournament MVP: #6 Rod Betonio
This Game: 2/4 at the plate, 2 R and 1 SB
This Provincials: 10/21 at the plate (.476 AVG and .500 OBP) 9 R, 4 RBI, 9 SB; 1.000 fielding% (100% of innings played at CF)