For the third time in four seasons, the Armena Royals will be playing for a Powerline Baseball League Championship. The Royals defeated the Holden Blue Jays 5-3 on Thursday night at Anniversary Park in what became a tense game due to the weather.
The pitching matchup was Steve Hrabec for the Holden Blue Jays and Doug Morris for the Armena Royals. Both pitchers threw well and filled the strike zone, there were no walks allowed during the game. The Royals came out swinging against Hrabec with back to back to back singles by Zenan Sherbaniuk, Doug Morris and Luke Ryan to lead off the game made it a quick 1-0 lead for Armena. An error to the Blue Jays would allow Morris to score the second run as the Royals would send seven hitters to the plate collecting four hits and a 2-0 lead. Hrabec would however get out of the early jam getting back to back ground ball outs to strand two Royals in scoring position and start a streak of retiring thirteen of the next fifteen Armena hitters. But it was the two hitters he didn’t retire in the bottom of the third inning that would cost the Jays another run. With one out in the inning, Luke Ryan would reach on an error to Jays shortstop Colten Ziegler. Ryan would steal second base and would end up colliding with second baseman Craig Weder on a play that shook up Ryan. After a brief delay to allow Ryan to collect himself, Sheldon Petryshyn would drive him in to make it a 3-0 lead.
The Jays would finally get to Morris in the top of the fifth inning when the bottom of the order would start the rally. Allan Ziegler and Clay Geibelhaus would lead off the inning with back to back singles. Geibelhaus’ singles would turn into an extra base after a misplay in left field by Luke Ryan moved both runners into scoring position. Lead off hitter Colten Ziegler would hit a one out infield single allowing Allan Ziegler to score and Geibelhaus to sneak in to third. The extra ninety feet was pivotal for the Blue Jays as Grayson Suprovich would bring in the Jays second run of the night and trim the deficit to 3-2 on a sacrifice fly to right field. Morris would however get Zak Lang on his third hard hit out to the outfield of the night, keeping the score 3-2 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning with a massive storm beginning to threaten the completion of the game.
In the bottom of the fifth, the game now considered an official game with the 3-2 lead by the home Armena Royals, the umpires would give in to the rain and stop the game just as the Blue Jays made a pitching change. A one out single by Doug Morris, which also turned into an extra base on a fielding error by centre fielder Randall Ziegler, lead to the Jays calling on Grayson Suprovich to take over from Hrabec. Just as Suprovich finished his warm up the skies opened up and the game was officially in a rain delay. It was a quick, but intense, fifteen minute rain delay before the umpires met with both teams and it was decided that we would try to finish the game. Suprovich would hit the first batter he would face, Luke Ryan and get his second out of the inning on a ground out to Sheldon Petryshyn. The ground would was big for the Royals as both Morris and Ryan would advance on the play for a big two out single by right fielder Liam Gregor to make it a 5-3 lead in what would eventually become the game winning hit.
Heading into the top of the seventh inning the Jays were three outs away from being knocked out of the playoffs. The skies were opening up, lightning was being used as a light source due to the heavy darkness brought on by the clouds but the teams came this far and were not going to let a little weather stop them.
Royals pitcher Doug Morris was still on the mound and the Jays would get to him with two outs. After an error by his short stop, Morris would get another ground ball, this time off the bat of Colten Ziegler and in what looked like a possible double play ball. Ziegler would beat out the throw to first on the fielders choice which would prove big for the Jays with Suprovich and Lang coming up. Suprovich would come through with a single and Lang would finally put up a run for the Jays by driving in Ziegler. With two out, the tying run on second base, Morris would get cleanup hitter Craig Weder to fly out to centre field where Zenan Sherbaniuk would make the game winning catch in the midst of a lightning storm, darkness and driving rain. The complete game effort for Morris gives him a win in the series to go along with a save he earned in the 8-7 win in game one by Armena.
The weather ended up overshadowing the play on the field as after the game some fans were left wondering out loud if the umpire crew and the teams made the right decision in allowing the game to continue with lightning strikes occurring as close as the train tracks just north of the ball diamond. Getting out of the top of the fifth inning with a 3-2 lead was the key moment for the Royals as the weather was on their side. The storm was bad enough that you had to wonder if the teams would have been able to play the bottom of the seventh, even if Craig Weder would have hit a three run home run to make it a 6-5 Jays lead. If the bottom of the seventh wasn’t able to play out, as per PBL rules, the score would have reverted back to the score at the end of the last complete inning, which would have been a 5-2 Royals lead. With all of that said, everyone also understood the importance of allowing an elimination game to be played out as opposed to a weather or darkness shortened game to end the season of one of the teams.
Armena Royals vs Leduc Milleteers For The Championship
The matchup is now set, the Royals will take on the Leduc Milleteers for the 2018 Powerline Baseball League Championship. The two teams have met twice in the playoffs since the Milleteers joined the PBL in 2008. Their first meeting was in the 2012 PBL Championship where the Milleteers would battle back from a game one defeat to the Royals to win the series 2-1 for their fourth PBL title in four years. The two teams would tangle once again in the playoffs the following season, this time in the PBL Semi-Final Series where the Milleteers would swept the Royals 2-0 on their way to the teams fifth PBL Championship in as many seasons.
Schedule for the best of three PBL Championship
Game One – Tuesday July 24 – Leduc Milleteers at Armena Royals
Game Two – Thursday July 26 – Armena Royals at Leduc Milleteers
Game Three – Tuesday July 31 – Leduc Milleteers at Armena Royals *If Necessary*