The Alvinston Indians hosted the St. Thomas Storm in game 3 of the St. Thomas & District Major Fastball League playoff semi-final, Sunday, in Alvinston. The Indians held a 2-0 lead in the series, and needed to win this game to sweep the series, and do to St. Thomas, what they did to Alvinston in the league playoff final last year. A great crowd was on hand, and both teams put on a quality display for the mass of fans.
The game pitted both teams aces, and both pitchers tossed a quality game for their respective teams. Dan Beecroft took the rubber for the Storm, while the Indians countered with Kyle Crawford.
The Indians opened the scoring in the second inning, when Aaron Stocking hit a ball into the hole between short and third, enough for him to beat the throw to first, and single for Alvinston. He advanced to second via a pass ball, and then advanced to third via a well executed sacrifice bunt by Brad Cooper. Stocking then scored on a pass ball, beating the throw to the plate, for a 1-0 Alvinston lead.
The game remained 1-0 for several innings, with both teams threatening on several occasions, but not able to get the big hit. That changed in the sixth inning, when Paul Velema reached base for St. Thomas via an infield hit with one out. Velema would score the tying run for St. Thomas, when Matt Lynch came through with a clutch triple. All of a sudden the go-ahead run was at third base with one out. That threat ended fast however, when Chris Wismer hammered a line drive right into the glove of Aaron Stocking at short, who doubled off Lynch at third, ending the St. Thomas threat.
Now in the top of the seventh, and game knotted at one's, Mark Coleman was hit by a pitch for the Storm. The next batter struckout, and up stepped Troy Rick to the plate, who promptly singled for St. Thomas, putting runners on first and third. Rick then stole second base, but the Indians were able to retire the next batter, via a ground ball out. The next batter came to the plate, and a pass ball allowed Coleman to score from third, for the all important go ahead run.
St. Thomas had a 2-1 lead, and needed only three outs to extend the series. The first two outs were flyouts for Alvinston, and the Stom needed only one out to end the game, and send the series back to St. Thomas. Craig Lyons came to the plate for Alvinston, and hit a dribbler and bouncer between the mound and third base, that the pitcher fielded and overthrew to first, allowing Lyons to advance all the way to third base, for the game's potential tying run. Joe Triest was the next batter, and with two singles already in the game, Joe came through again, smacking a double over the centre fielder's head, to tie the game. Chapman walked to put runners on first and second, but Alvinston wasn't able to score the winning run in the seventh, and the game would go to extra innings.
Crawford went to work for Alvinston, retiring all three St. Thomas batters in order, in their half of the eighth inning, via two ground balls and a strikeout. That set the scene for what was a very exciting bottom of the eighth inning. Brad Cooper lead off for Alvinston, and hit a ball hard to the St. Thomas second baseman, but he wasn't able to get a glove on the ball, and Cooper was standing at second base after the error, representing the game's potential winning run. Doug Charlton was the next batter, and he hit a ball right at the third baseman, but Cooper was a good decoy at second, allowing Charlton to get to first safely via a fielder's choice, with no out recorded. Alix Chisholm then came to the plate, and executed the sacrifice bunt to perfection, advancing both runners to second and third with one out. The next batter for Alvinston was 18 year-old Devin Triest. The young Triest did not disappoint, hitting a ball deep enough into left centre field, allowing Cooper to score the winning run for Alvinston, on the sacrifice fly hit by Triest.
The final score was Alvinston 3, St. Thomas 2. Crawford earned the win yet again, allowing 4 hits, 2 runs, 1 earned run, with 1 hit batsman, no walks, and seven strikeouts. He threw every inning in the three games, allowing a stingy five runs in three games, with 39 strikeouts, and 10 hits allowed.
The Indians advance to the St. Thomas & District Major Fastball League Playoff Finals, to face the winner of Springfield and Shedden, who are playing in the other semi-final.