Game 3 scheduled for tonight in Moncton
© Guardian photo by Mitch MacDonald
Alex Abbott makes a dash for home to give the Charlottetown Islanders an early 3-1 lead early over the Moncton Mets in New Brunswick Senior Baseball League playoff action Monday night at Memorial Field.
The Charlottetown Gaudet’s Auto Body Islanders relied on good pitching and key hitting to pick up a 5-2 victory over the Moncton Mets and, more importantly, tie the best-of-five New Brunswick Senior Baseball League playoff series at a game apiece.
The Mets won the opening game 7-4 Saturday in Moncton and is scheduled to host Game 3 tonight at 7:30 p.m., weather permitting.
At Memorial Field, the Islanders found themselves behind the eight-ball early. Down 1-0 with runners at second and third and one out, Mets centre-fielder Craig Betts hit a ball down the first base line.
With Mark Fournier charging for home plate, Islanders first basemen Morgan MacLean fielded the ball and made the decision to throw to the plate, where catcher Travis Gaudet slapped on the tag for the second out.
“I was going to tag the runner that was coming to first and try to keep the runner at third,” said MacLean. “I saw him busting for home. I just tried to get rid of it and keep it a one-run game at that point.”
Islanders’ starting pitcher Jordan Stevenson would then strike out Andrew Rinzler and that let the Islanders bats to go to work.
Mets pitcher Justin Cormier would walk the first two Islander batters before striking out one and walking another.
With the bases loaded, rookie left fielder Josh Kelly knocked a single through the gap to score two runs and Alex Abbott would steal home on a pass ball to put the Islanders up 3-1.
“We came up with timely hits and that definitely helped us out,” said Islanders’ head coach Jason Monaghan. “We did have some innings where we left some guys on, but we made up for that. Our bats are starting to get really good and, hopefully, it continues throughout the series.”
Stevenson would take over from there, giving up only three hits and one run in the top of the sixth for the complete-game victory.
“We had great pitching,” said MacLean. “Jordan pitched a heck of a game. He always keeps us in it. He did a great job getting ground balls and keeping guys off base.”
Monaghan said he was a little worried going into the game about the strike zone.
“I was a little scared today because the umpire never called a lot of low strikes which is never a good thing for a pitcher. He was able to get guys to swing at his pitches and command the zone like he usually does.
“He’s always pretty reliable when we send him out there along with everybody else on our staff.”
Kelly went back to work in the sixth with runners on second and third and knocked a double up the middle to score another Islanders run.
Fellow rookie Taylor Larkin then knocked a ball deep to put the Islanders up 5-2.
“Both of those guys played well with us all year long,” Monaghan said of kelly and Larkin. “Today was a perfect example of everything.
“Kelly has been hitting the ball really well for the last two weeks of the season. Larkin is always good for some funny stuff like when he laid down the bunt and got a base hit out of it.”
MacLean said games being cancelled over the weekend due to rain favoured the Islanders.
“It gave us time to rest some arms. Some guys were playing in the juniors and seniors, so they were feeling pretty sore. It gave us a lot of time to rest up for sure.”
MacLean said the Islanders focused on the little things during the game and that was the difference.
“The bottom of the order really stepped up this game. We played really sound baseball and did all the little things right.”
Pitchers - Charlottetown: Jordan Stevenson (WP), 7 innings, 7 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts; Moncton: Justin Cormier (LP), 6 innings, 6 hits, 5 runs, 5 walks, 2 strikeouts.
Game Changer - With Mets first baseman Mark Fournier charging for home plate, Islanders first basemen Morgan MacLean fielded the ball and made the decision to throw to the plate, where catcher Travis Gaudet slapped on the tag to keep the game 1-0.
Big Bat - Charlottetown: Josh Kelly (LF), 3 at-bats, 2 hits, 3 RBIs.
Series - Best-of-five series tied 1-1. Next game tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Kiwanis Park in Moncton. Game 4 TBA.