© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Bryan Linton of the Charlottetown Gaudet’s Auto Body Islanders keeps a close eye on the pitch during New Brunswick Senior Baseball League playoff action against the Hub City Brewers Tuesday night at Memorial Field. Mike Ivey is the catcher.
Energy proved the key player in the Charlottetown Gaudet’s Auto Body Islanders’ 6-1 series clinching win Tuesday night over the Hub City Brewers at Memorial Field.
Key in that Charlottetown had it (count three first-inning runs and a jump in the Isles’ cleats as evidence), while Hub City didn’t.
Charlottetown won the best-of-five matchup 3-0 and moves on to the New Brunswick Senior Baseball League semifinals against the Chatham Ironmen or the Fredericton Royals.
Charlottetown first baseman Alex Abbott paced his squad with two hits, an RBI and a run scored, and said jumping out early has been a focused Isles strategy for the second half of the season.
“We’ve been trying to manufacture runs off the start to help give our pitchers some confidence. (I) can’t say enough about the way (starter) Taylor (Larkin) pitched and how (catcher) Morgan MacLean called the game. And with 10 hits our bats came alive when we needed them the most,” said Abbott.
“The series (versus Hub City) has been tough all year. This series we had one that went to extra innings, Game 1 was a close one. After they got a hit, our pitchers did good job of deflating any energy and Morgan did a good job of keeping tempo."
Hub City started the first inning with a hit, but Larkin pitched out of the threat and set the pace for the bottom half of the frame.
First, lead-off hitter Jordan Duffy drew a walk from Hub City starter Martin Poirier then singles by Brody McDonald and MacLean, who drew the first RBI, gave the Isles a 1-0 lead.
Abbott then singled home MacDonald and second baseman Will Connolly’s sacrifice fly brought in MacLean from third base for a 3-0 lead Charlottetown wouldn't relinquish.
Hub City scored its lone run in the fourth after a double by designated hitter Martin Roussell and two straight outs to Abbott brought Roussell home.
Even Roussell noticed his team’s lack of fire and said that was the major difference.
“They came out more ready than us. We were down after the first inning, no cheering, just head shakes after a ball call. It’s been that way all year,” said Roussell, who was 2-for-3 with a triple, a double and an RBI in the series. “We played good baseball, it was all mental.”
Charlottetown added two runs in the fifth on a two-run single by left fielder Josh Kelly and a single score in the sixth off Hub City reliever Glenn Marks.
Larkin went five and two-thirds innings for the win, giving up five hits, one run, walking two and striking out three. McDonald came in with two out in the bottom of the sixth and struck out Brewers third baseman Tim Webber to end the frame.
McDonald tossed a three up three-down seventh inning to earn the save.
Poirier went five innings in the loss, surrendering nine hit and five runs and striking out two.
Kelly and Connolly were also 2-for-3 for the Isles while MacLean went 3-for-3 with a walk.
Pat Godin, Mark Deveaux and Jolin Benoit had singles for Hub City, which also committed four errors.
Next up, the Isles face Chatham or Fredericton in the semifinals, depending on which team wins the Moncton Mets-Saint John Alpines quarter-final.
Moncton beat Saint John 6-4 in Tuesday’s Game 3 and lead the best-of-five series 2-1. Game 4 is today in Saint John at 7:30 p.m.
If Moncton wins the series, Charlottetown faces the top-seeded Royals. If Saint John wins, Charlottetown plays the second-seeded Ironmen.
Charlottetown was a combined 3-9 versus Fredericton and Chatham in the regular season.
“Both teams are tough. We have to show up either way,” said Abbott.”