On Tuesday night the Milleteers swept the defending Powerline Baseball League Champions Rosalind Athletics, with a 9-8 win in Leduc. The sweep ends a streak of three PBL Championship Final appearances for the A’s dating back to 2015 and avenges the 2017 sweep by the Athletics for the Milleteers which saw two 15-5 losses.
Game two would see Rosalind send Steve Enright to the mound with the hometown Milleteers countering with Chad Soucy. The A’s would strike first and get off to a great start pounding their way to a 5-0 lead after three innings. Catcher Sheldon Pederson would lead off the game for the A’s with a double down the left field line. Four of the next five A’s would reach safely including a RBI single from Steve Enright and a bases loaded walk earned by third baseman Ryan Yuha. Enright and Soucy would trade 1-2-3 innings until the top of the third when the A’s would strike again.
With one out, short stop Josh Burnstad would wear a Soucy pitch and move into scoring position with a stolen base. After a walk to Ryan Yuha right fielder Nic Ronsko would deliver a big triple to the right centre gap scoring both Burnstad and Yuha to make it 5-0 A’s. Soucy would fail to get out of the third inning, surrendering his fifth walk of the night to second baseman Dan Enright before the Milleteers would go to Steve Pahl out of the pen.
After retiring the first seven batters in a row, Steve Enright would finally surrender a hit to the Milleteers when left fielder Brendan Huber would reach on a base hit to left. With two out the Milleteers would get on the board with a Mykel Ruptash chopper through the right side to score Huber making it 5-1 A’s.
In the fourth the Milleteers would trim the deficit to 5-2 with another RBI single to the right side, this time by catcher Tyler Mathieu. The A’s would get one run back in the fifth with some fundamental baseball. After a lead off double by Burnstad, Yuha would move him over with a ground ball to the right side and with one out Ronsko would knock in his third RBI of the game on a single up the middle. But it was the bottom of the fifth that would see the big momentum swing in favour of the Milleteers.
The first five Milleteers would reach safely with a single to Ruptash, a fielder’s choice to Jon Anstey on a throwing error to try and turn a double play, allowing second baseman Alex McIntosh to drive in Ruptash with a single. Third baseman Del Kruk would load the bases with a single setting up the big hit by centre fielder Kirk Smith. In game one Smith would hold the A’s offence at bat and on Tuesday night, would tie the game 6-6 with a bases clearing double to end Steve Enright’s night.
The back to back PBL Champion A’s showed how resilient they are by bouncing back in the top of the sixth. Sheldon Pederson would lead off with a walk but get caught trying to steal second on a close play. One out singles by Matt Enright and Steve Enright would end Steve Pahl’s night after 2.2 innings. Jon Anstey would be relief for the Milleteers but would run into trouble right away. A’s first baseman Brayden Bensen would score Matt Enright on an error to take the lead and Steve Enright would score on a Josh Burnstad single to make it 8-6 A’s. Rosalind had the opportunity to blow the game open after Ryan Yuha would get hit by a pitch from Anstey (more on this later). But the Milleteers right hander would get strikeouts of Nic Ronsko and Mark Gjesdal to leave the bases loaded and give his team the chance for the comeback.
Bottom of the sixth inning. 8-6 Athletics. Top of the Milleteers order due up. Cue the comeback. For the third inning in a row the Milleteers would get their lead off man on board. Mykel Ruptash would pull a ball into the right corner to immediately put the Milleteers in a position to have a big inning. In the top of the sixth inning, Milleteers pitcher Jon Anstey would hit A’s pitcher Ryan Yuha. In the bottom of the sixth Yuha would hit Anstey to put two runners on with some lingering looks across the diamond. Milleteers second basemen Alex McIntosh collect his second RBI of the night with his second RBI single. Ruptash would score on the play and still with no outs third baseman Del Kruk would connect on a Yuha offering to tie the game as Jon Anstey crossed the plate.
With the game tied and Matt Enright now on the mound the A’s would get two opportunities to turn big double plays but would come up short. Centre fielder would be too quick for the A’s middle infield after his come-backer to Matt Enright. The A’s would then elect to give Steve Pahl the intentional pass to load the bases after Smith took second base. The idea worked, the execution did not. Milleteers catcher Tyler Mathieu would hit a hard ground ball to short but would be too fast for the A’s middle infield to turn the double play on a close play at first. Alex McIntosh would cross the plate for the game winning run on the ever exciting RBI fielder’s choice.
Rosalind youngster Chase Leslie would lead off the top of the seventh with a base hit to left field to give the A’s the tying run at first. With one out pitcher Matt Enright would rip a shot back up the middle but right at Anstey who would spin and fire to second to start the game ending and series clinching double play.
The win sends the Milleteers to the PBL Championship for the first time since 2013, which ended up being the fifth and final title in a row. The Milleteers will face either the Holden Blue Jays or the Armena Royals in the championship final. The Jays and Royals are set to play a third and deciding game on Thursday July 19 after Holden evened the series 1-1 on Tuesday with a 5-2 win. The Milleteers have faced the Royals once in the PBL Championship, winning 2-1 in 2012, and the Jays twice winning 2-1 in 2011 and 2-0 in 2013.
Game one of the PBL Championship is currently scheduled to happen on Tuesday July 24 in either Leduc (if the Jays win game three) or in Armena (if the Royals win game three).