Padres ousted from SCBL playoffs
Carberry celebrates following an 11-9 victory over the Padres to advance to the SCBL championship final this evening at Republic Park in Portage la Prairie. (Brian Oliver/The Graphic)
The sun set - literally - on the Padres' postseason.
A back-and-forth slugfest was cut short after six innings due to darkness with the Portage Padres on the losing end of an 11-9 score in the third and deciding game against the visiting Carberry Royals in Santa Clara Baseball League semifinal playoff action this evening at Republic Park in Portage la Prairie.
"We never gave up, we gave it all we had. A couple bad innings (but) we didn't quit. It's a positive heading into provincials," said Portage's Robert Smith. "Daylon Creasy (started Game 2) last night and was looking a little tired (in relief). Maybe if we had another bat against him things could have been a little bit different."
In a game that had five lead changes and was more back-and-fourth than a tennis rally, the Royals plated four runners in the top half of the sixth to erase their second two-run deficit of the night. Padres' Joey Moffatt - who entered the game in relief of starting pitcher Dustin Donald to get the home squad out of a fourth inning jam - retired the first four batters he faced, in order, before the Royals' bats got to the youngster.
After back-to-back seeing-eye singles through the infield allowed the first two batters to reach, Moffatt jammed the next hitter he faced, forcing an infield fly rule and the resulting automatic out. The 15-year-old struggled to find the strike zone from there, and after three straight walks gave way to veteran pitcher Rod McLeod.
After falling behind in the count, the Carberry batter squared up the 0-1 pitch and drilled a double to the left field wall to break the 9-9 tie and put the Royals up two. McLeod settled down from there, forcing the next hitter he faced to pop into the second infield fly of the inning before getting the final hitter to ground out to first.
The Padres responded with a gutsy effort in the home-half of the sixth - after learning from the umpiring crew that they'll have just three outs to salvage their title defence - and had the bases loaded with the series clinching run on first, but couldn't manage the big hit, as Smith flied out to centre on the final out of the game.
"We had two 2-run leads there and battled back from being four down. You score 9 runs, you win most games," said Padre Blake Swedlo. "We just couldn't get it done tonight. We had the bases loaded in the last inning and we just couldn't get them in, that's the way baseball goes sometimes."
It's not the end of the ball season for the Portage group mind you, as their first place finish in the SCBL regular season garnered the club a spot in the upcoming AA Senior Provincials, set for Aug. 11-13 in beautiful, Neepawa, Man.