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A’s fall one run short of repeat of Major division baseball title in Nelson

The Nelson Daily Sports
By The Nelson Daily Sports
July 2nd, 2024

The Nelson Athletics had a league title to defend heading in to the 2024 West Kootenay Baseball Association Major division season.

By the time the Major League championships were hosted in Nelson, June 19-23, the Athletics came one run away from a repeat of their historic 2023 win under coach Dan Gaudreau, losing 13-12 to the Trail Rangers at Queen Elizabeth Park despite scoring four runs in the top of the sixth in a late comeback. Last year the A’s beat the Ranger 7-5 to win the championship.

The A’s started the weekend as an underdog, closing out the 12-game baseball season with a 5-7 record, but winning five out of their last seven games. In their first playoff game the A’s brought the thunder with a 14-8, under-the-lights, win over the Beaver Valley Blue Jays, a club that had beaten them earlier in the season.

In only his second game pitching — and his third back from what was expected to be a season-ending injury — Jasper Parker threw three powerful innings and combined with league allstar Matti Pajerski to record the win. Parker (who also made the allstar team but had to drop out due to injury) and Pajerski helped themselves out at the plate, going three-for-four and scoring three runs and two-for-three with three runs and one RBI, respectively. Riel Schafer went four-for-four in the game, scoring two runs and knocking in three runs.

That set the A’s up to not be eliminated in the nine-team playoff, allowing them a game to “burn” and save pitcher’s arms and innings — each team was allowed to put one pitcher in for a playoff total of eight innings — for future games. But, in saving their pitchers they forgot about their bats, stranding several runners and running a blank, 10-0, against the Trail Rangers.

In the game, perennial shortstop Damien Perriere-Ellis was pressed into pitching duty, giving up two runs over three innings of work, striking out seven of the 11 batters he faced.

Later that Saturday at Queen “E” the Athletics were tested with a close game against the Castlegar Guardians, a team that manhandled them earlier in the season. The club relied on the arms of Parker, Pajerski and Ericson Smith to record the 4-3 win and advance to the final. Smith pitched a near “immaculate” inning in the fourth inning, striking out two batters and throwing out a third with a minimum of nine pitches.

The win allowed the A’s to move on to Sunday morning — after it was determined the A’s would be seeded into the semi-finals — and they faced the Trail Dodgers, a team they had beaten two weeks previous.

The A’s jumped out to a 6-0 lead on the strength of the Parker and Pajerski tandem, but Smith had to be brought in late in the sixth inning — striking out two batters — to close out for the 6-4 win and a trip to the final.

The defence went south but the offence came north in the final game against the Rangers, including a towering home run shot that nearly cleared the fence from Pajerski that started a late rally in the top of the sixth inning. With two A’s runners on base the Rangers managed to fan two A’s batters to close the game out and preserve the win.

In the final, league allstar Pajerski went three-for-four (one double, one home run, three runs scored and three runs batted in) while fellow allstar Smith was four-for-four, including two doubles and a triple, scoring three runs and two RBI’s. Parker also was three-for-four, with one double and three RBI’s. Perriere-Ellis was two-for-four with a triple and one RBI.

Categories: Sports

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