It’s do or die time for the Thunder Bay All-Stars, and they’ve got less than 48 hours to figure out how to turn things around.
The host squad dropped its third straight game to wrap up round-robin play at the Big League Canadian Championship falling 5-4 to the unbeaten Montreal Rockies on Wednesday night at Baseball Central and finished the tournament with a 2-3 mark. It was Thunder Bay's third straight defeat.
The two teams will meet in the second of two semifinals on Friday and coach Craig Steele said while the win would have been a great confidence boost, knowing they can hang with the top team in the tournament is plenty of motivation going forward.
“It was a situation for us where we obviously already knew what we were facing going into the game,” said coach Craig Steele. “Our spot was already locked up going into the game. So we just set ourselves up for Friday as far as pitching goes.
“It was all about seeing what they’re all about, and like you said, we match up pretty well with them. I’m pretty confident that these guys are going to break out in a big way on Friday. We haven’t really played our best game to date yet.”
Cooper Lamke, who singled, stole second and crossed the plate on a Bryce Jorgenson first-inning double to open the scoring, and later drove in Tyler Kitching in the fifth with a run that gave Thunder Bay a 3-2 lead, said they now know they can beat anyone at the week-long tournament.
“I don’t think we’re afraid of any of these teams here, realistically. We haven’t really played our best yet and today was a lot better outing than we’ve had the last two outings previously. Realistically, when it comes down to Friday, we’re going to do well,” Lamke said.
All-Stars starter Zac Korchak held the Rockies to two runs before leaving in the fourth, the coaching staff wanting to assure he’d be available to pitch again on Friday if need be.
Leading by one in the fifth, the Montreal squad got to reliever Cam Nahkala, taking the lead thanks to a timely two out rally.
Ben Goudbout kick-started the Rockies attack with in infield single, stole second and scored on a Liam Griffin single to left.
Antoine Boyer, who later picked up the win in relief, scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch that ended Nahkala’s turn on the mound.
The All-Stars fought back to tie the game in the seventh, a Mike Moskalyk sacrifice fly plating Kitching, but the Rockies got to Thunder Bay reliever Mac Joblin in a hurry in the bottom half of the inning, Boyer securing his own victory when Joblin fired a pitch to the backstop that allowed the runner to trot home from third.
Thunder Bay and Montreal will meet on Friday night at 6 p.m. Ontario will take on B.C. at 2 p.m. in the other semifinal.
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