The Noel Road Blue Jays pose for a team photo next to a plaque commemorating former teammate Anthony Miller, who passed away from cancer in 2016.
NOEL ROAD, N.S. – The Hantsport Shamrocks knew they would have to defeat the Noel Road Jays twice Sunday afternoon to capture the 2017 Nova Scotia Intermediate Baseball League Championship.
In the first game of what Hantsport was hoping would be a doubleheader, the Shamrocks took a 4-0 lead into the bottom of the fifth inning when their momentum collapsed as the Jays scored seven times on six hits and were also assisted by two Hantsport errors - eventually losing 8-5.
Eight of the first nine batters reached base for the Jays who sent eleven to the plate in their half of the fifth.
Judson Wiseman led off with a double that was followed up with base hits from Nate McCulloch, Lee Spares and Kenny Miller.
Pat Benedict struck-out before Mike White delivered a two-run single followed by another base hit from Matt Wiseman when Josh Burke scampered around the bases on two Hantsport errors and a wild pitch to give the Jays their 7-4 lead.
The Shamrocks tried to get back into it in the top of the sixth on two singles and a double by Roland Provencal, who had put Hantsport up 4-0 with a home run, but could only manage the one run.
Pat Benedict with the Jays slammed a home run to left in the bottom of the sixth for the game’s final run.
“I hit a knuckleball on the inside corner and knew from the minute it left my bat that it was going over the fence,” Benedict said following the game.
Jays Coach Tyler Ralston said “you are always nervous when you are trailing but I trusted our offence and had 100 per cent faith in it,” when asked if he was nervous about the 4-0 score early on.
Hantsport Manager Adrian Lloy said “we knew entering the game that we simply had to outscore the Jays because their pitching staff is deeper than ours.”
“We are not going to hang our heads over the loss today, we have an excellent group of up and comers and we will be back next season for another run at the league title,” Lloy added.
Hantsport 8 Windsor 3
The Shamrocks advanced to the championship round with Noel by defeating the Windsor Knights 8-3 Sunday morning and handing the Knights their second loss of the tournament.
Windsor had a 1-0 lead through four and a half innings before Hantsport scored five times in their half of the fourth and then went up 7-1 in the fifth inning after Sean Croft doubled and Roland Provencal slammed his first of two home runs of the day.
Matt Lloy pitched the win, walking no batters, and allowing seven hits while Adam Ferguson suffered the loss before he gave way to relief help in the Shamrocks huge fourth inning.
With the NSIBL Championship now decided, Windsor, Hantsport and Noel Road turn their attention to the Nova Scotia Intermediate AAA Baseball Championship being hosted by Noel Road on Labour Day Weekend.
Three other teams from the Halifax Regional Municipality will also be competing as the Jays attempt to go for their fourth consecutive championship.
The schedule for the opening nine games is as follows:
Sept. 1, 2017
Noel Road Jays vs Dartmouth Drillers — 1:00 p.m.
Hantsport Shamrocks vs Eastern Passage Pirates — 3:30 p.m.
Windsor Knights vs Spryfield Rays — 6:00 p.m.
Noel vs Eastern Passage — 8:30 p.m.
Sept. 2, 2017
Hantsport vs Spryfield - 9:00 a.m.
Windsor vs Dartmouth 11:30 a.m.
Noel Road vs Spryfield 2:00 p.m.
Hantsport vs Dartmouth 4:30 p.m.
Windsor vs Eastern Passage 7:00 p.m.
Lee Spares with Noel Road embraces Hantsport’s Adrian Lloy following the final game.
Editor's Note - A previous version of this story referred to the Noel Road Jays as the Noel Road Blue Jays, this has been corrected to reflect the correct name.
Also the article mistakenly descirbed the Jays victory as their fourth consecutive league win, instead this will mean it is their chance to win the provincial championship for the fourth time.
We regret the error.