On a night that began gloriously with the sun shining and the teams going toe-to-toe, it was the Holden Blue Jays who rose above the windy conditions and lightning to scratch out a thrilling 3-1 victory in game one of the PBL semi-final series in Armena Thursday night.
Holden sent Logan Skori to the hill who gave up seven hits, but never surrendered the big one. On the opposite side, six-game winner Ian Sherbaniuk gave up just five hits, but a couple errors and a clutch hit earned him the loss on the night.
Each team turned double plays and played a scoreless first three frames, with Skori notching two strikeouts and Sherbaniuk three.
However, errors in the fourth and seventh helped the Blue Jays score a single run in each inning off the bats of Braeden Majeski and Randall Ziegler respectively. Majeski would add another RBI on a double in the sixth inning as Grayson Soprovich hustled home with no abandon as the ball reached home plate a mile ahead of him on the cutoff but six feet over the catcher’s head to score the eventual winning run.
The Royals on the other hand had no clutch hitting. A hit-and-run in the first inning executed well by Adam Johnson, who went 3-for-3 with a double on the night, saw Zenan Sherbaniuk thrown out caught in between second and third. In the fourth inning, lead-off singles were stranded at second and third. Then, in the sixth inning, three straight singles led off the inning before Skori got three groundouts off the bats of veterans Clark Banack, Jason Buzzell and Chad Samoisette, to leave the Royals scoreless despite having bases loaded with none out.
The series heads back to Holden Tuesday while the other series between Leduc and Ryley ended in favour of the Rebels with their 5-1 win over the defending champions – ending a five-year run unparalleled in PBL modern history, but keeping Leduc from tying the Armena Royals/Axemen for six straight league championship appearances.