Wednesday night saw the first Powerline Baseball League Wild Card Game in modern league history after the league executive implemented the idea of a 5th vs 4th game during the Spring Meeting. The Holden Blue Jays defeated the expansion Edmonton Expos 6-0 in-front of a big crowd at the Holden Recreation Grounds.
The Blue Jays would send left hander Kyle Muzechka to the mound with the Expos countering with a lefty of their own, Gary LeBlanc. The two pitchers would put on a pitching clinic for the first few innings until the Jays finally struck in the bottom of the fourth inning. Holden catcher Steve Hrabec would reach on a fielding error by LeBlanc on a comeback chopper which would set up right fielder Clay Gielbelhaus to deliver a two our RBI single to right field scoring Hrabec. Later in the inning centre fielder Randall Ziegler would bring home Gielbelhaus with a RBI single down the third base line courtesy a home down bounce that went up and over the head of Expos third baseman Julius Robinson for a 2-0 Jay lead. Both runs were unearned with the Expos defence struggling to take care of the baseball.
LeBlanc’s night would come to an end in the fifth inning when the first five Jays hitters would all reach, four of them scoring. A lead off walk to third baseman Grayson Suprovich would get the ball rolling for the Jays, he would proceed to steal second base before scoring on a Zak Lang double. Second baseman Craig Weder would reach on an error to Expos short stop Bret Barron ahead of back to back RBI singles from catcher Steve Hrabec and pitcher Kyle Muzechka. Expos centre fielder Daniel Zuk would be given work out of the pen with the Jays now leading 6-0.
With a lead, Muzechka was now settled in and at one point had retired 12 straight Expos, helping his offence get back onto the field to expand their lead. The only hit the Expos could muster against Muzechka was a bloop single to right field off the bat of lead off hitter Vaughn Rempel to start the game. Third baseman Julius Robinson would be walked to put two runners on but back to back strikeouts and a ground out would get Muzechka out of the first inning jam and into cruise control. The only hitters to reach base for the Expos the rest of the game was a lead off walk by Gary LeBlanc to start the second inning and a lead off hit by pitch for Rempel to start the sixth, which was later erased in a fielder’s choice. Muzechka would retire 17 of the final 20 hitters he would face, sending the Holden Blue Jays to Armena with the Wild Card win.
Game one of the Semi-Final series between the Holden Blue Jays and the Armena Royals will go on Thursday night at Anniversary Park in Armena. The lack of time between the Wild Card Game and the first game of the Series against the Pennant winners, is exactly would the league executive was hoping for when implementing the Wild Card Game. The goal was to have the Pennant winners receive more of an advantage for a successful season, and in Armena’s case they will now more than likely only have to face Muzechka once, possibly in game two, as opposed to twice. The Jays and the Royals split their season series one game a piece with Holden being the team that finally stopped the Royals win streak to start the season. First pitch for Thursday is scheduled for 7:00pm.