After blowing an early 3-0 lead, the Armena Royals would battle back from a 7-3 deficit to defeat the Holden Blue Jays 8-7 on Thursday night in game one of their best of three PBL Semi-Final Series. It was another perfect night for baseball as the two teams would combine for 23 hits on the night while the pitching match up of Ryan Walker and Ian Sherbaniuk allowed only one walk between the two of them.
A single walk and only five strikeouts meant that both teams were putting the ball in play with the Jays defence letting them down early on a couple of missed pop ups in the infield and a pair of missed played balls in the outfield, helping the Royals to an early 3-0 lead after two innings. In the bottom of the first inning, after reaching on an error, Royals shortstop Doug Morris would score on a bases loaded infield fly that found the ground for the first run of the series. In the bottom of the second inning a two out RBI single from Royals centerfielder Zenan Sherbaniuk would make it 2-0 ahead of another error in the Jays infield allowing Sherbaniuk to score later in the inning to make it 3-0.
The possible defensive play of the game occurred in the top of the fourth inning when the Jays were threatening with runners at first and second with no one out. Holden catcher Steve Hrabec would hit a line drive on the screws right back up the middle towards Sherbaniuk. The Royals pitcher would react with a big glove, catching the ball and tossing it over to first for a bang-bang double play to end the threat.
It wouldn’t be until the top of the fifth inning when the Jays would finally get to Sherbaniuk and the Royals. With two outs Grayson Suprovich would hit a RBI single to make it 3-1, Zak Lang would hit a two RBI double to make it 3-3 and Craig Weder would give Holden the 4-3 lead with his RBI single to left field. The Jays would put up four hits in the inning including doubles from Lang and Randall Ziegler. Holden would strike again in the top of the sixth inning with five consecutive hits after Sherbaniuk would quickly retire the first two hitters of the inning. Another Ziegler double, this time by left fielder Allen Ziegler would get the ball rolling for the Jays as Randall Ziegler, Colton Ziegler, Suprovich and Lang would all reach via base hit in the inning. The Jays would lead 7-3 but the Royals remained positive and would put the game away in the bottom of the sixth with a big inning of their own.
Once again fans were treated to clutch hitting as the Royals would put up all five of their runs in the inning with two outs and capitalize on a costly error in the Jays infield. With two outs, Doug Morris would single home two runs with a ball into left field to make it 7-5 before a throwing error on a ball in play off the bat of Luke Ryan would open the flood gates for the Royals. Catcher Sheldon Petryshyn would tie the ball game at 7-7 with a stick the bat out swing driving home Morris and Ryan who were both in scoring position on a double steal earlier in the at bat. Petryshyn would come around to score as Clark Banack would hit a game winning single that would deflect off of a diving Colten Ziegler and end up in left field.
After a lead off walk to Jays catcher Steve Hrabec to start the top of the seventh the Royals would turn to Doug Morris to close the door. After a drag bunt attempt by right fielder Kyle Muzechka and a ground ball out by Clay Giebelhaus, Hrabec would find himself ninety feet away from tying the ball game. Hrabec nearly had an opportunity to score when the Royals attempted a 5-3-6 tail end of a potential double play resulting in the ball evading short stop Devan Varga who had to battle the setting sun. The Jays elected to hold Hrabec and let left fielder Allen Ziegler try to drive him in. Early in the final at bat of the game, Royals catcher Sheldon Petryshyn would make a great pick on a wild pitch from Morris to keep Hrabec at third. It was a huge play for the Royals who would get an infield pop up to end the game a couple of pitches later and give the PBL Pennant winning squad from Armena the huge first win of the series.
Game two of the series will go on Tuesday July 17 at the Holden Recreation Grounds. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00pm.
In the other Semi-Final matchup between the Rosalind Athletics and Leduc Milleteers, the defending PBL Champion A’s had a tough night losing 6-1. Rosalind will have their backs against the wall as they will head to Leduc on Tuesday night for Game 2 at Fred Johns Park.