© Guardian photo by Nigel Armstrong
Jesse MacIntyre slides safe into home for the O'Leary Eagles during playoff action Thursday in Charlottetown.
A hole under the fence may have cost the O'Leary Summerside Chrysler Dodge Eagles Game 2 of the P.E.I. senior men's fastpitch championship Thursday in Charlottetown.
Trailing 6-4, but rallyingwith two out against the Charlottetown Gahan House Fawcetts, O'Leary's Jesse MacIntyre whacked a double to left field off Fawcetts relief pitcher Chris Craig in the top of the fifth inning.
The ball tailed away from the left-fielder, rolled under a fence at City Diamond and out of play before Eagles designated hitter Jason Smallman could score the fifth run. It also stopped MacIntyre taking third base.
Both were sent back a base, Smallman to third and MacIntyre to second.
The next Eagles batter, Curtis Reilly, flied out to right field and killed the rally at three runs.
“I think so,” MacIntyre said when asked if the game changes if the ball stays in play. “I'm well on my way to third. Jason Smallman is almost home. That's the winning run. That's the difference in the game.”
The best-of-three series is tied 1-1. Game 3 is tonight in O'Leary. Game time is 7 p.m. at Ellis Field.
The Eagles won the series opener 4-0 on Wednesday in O'Leary behind Mitch Hardy, an international-level pitcher.
Thursday, O'Leary grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second inning on Fawcetts pitcher Stephen Bishop. But Charlottetown tied the game 1-1 on a solo home run by Chris Arsenault in the bottom of the frame.
In the bottom of the third, the Fawcetts hung three runs on Eagles’ starting pitcher Steve Noonan for a 4-1 lead, helped by a two-run blast by Charlottetown first baseman Mark Arsenault.
Two more runs came in the fourth and none bigger than a sacrifice fly by Fawcetts centre-fielder Tyler Doucette which drove in the eventual game-winning run.
“Certainly it always good to score (lots of) runs early. Especially for us because we sometimes fade in the later innings,” said Doucette, a 22-year-old Kensington native, who also had a triple. “We have to play smart ball (Friday). We'll see their ace, we'll see Mitch. We need smart at-bats and sit on
Hardy pitched innings five and six and shut down the Fawcetts’ bats, striking out four of the seven batters he faced and surrendering one hit. It allowed the Eagles to chip away at the lead and O'Leary scored one more time in the sixth inning for a 6-5 deficit.
In the top of the seventh, however, Craig coaxed two fly balls before Fawcetts catcher Mike Craig threw out Smallman at second base to end the contest.
Still, the Eagles are a tough-minded bunch and won’t fold, said MacIntyre, and it never hurts to have Hardy and Jeff Ellsworth, a member of Canada’s senior men’s national team, on the roster.
“We're a confident group. There's a lot of confidence in the guys we have and we rally around each other,” said MacIntyre, a Mill River native. “Expect another game like (this one). There's not much to choose from between these two teams.”
Colton Donahue (2-4) led the Eagles with two runs batted in. Smallman (2-4) and MacIntyre (2-4) each had a RBI.
Doucette (2-3) and Chris Arsenault (2-3) paced the Fawcetts’ attack. Mark Arsenault (1-3) had two RBIs.
Bishop (1-1) went four and a third innings, giving up one run on three hits. He walked three and struck out six Eagles for the win.
Noonan (0-1) pitched four innings and gave up six runs on seven hits while striking out four in the loss.
Charlottetown outhit O'Leary 9-8.