The defending champions are a win away from a three-peat at the Canadian senior men’s fast pitch championship in Charlottetown.
John Kelly is greeted at home by 3 Cheers Pub teammates Liam Okeefe, left, and Jeremy O'Reilly after his two-run home run in the fourth inning on Saturday. — TC Media photo
3 Cheers Pub defeated the host Charlottetown John Brown Grille Fawcetts 10-0 in six innings on Saturday. Steve Mullaley ended it with a walk-off grand slam on an inside, low riseball from Andy Skelton.
“We wanted to end the game on that swing, not necessarily a walk-off home run by any means, but I just wanted to get a hit,” Mullaley said. “I’ve played with, and against, Andy Skelton for a lot of years, so it’s a guessing match back and forth between him and me, and, I think, I just guessed right on that one.”
The Fawcetts will play the winner of East Hants and Kelly’s Pub in Sunday’s semifinal at 11 a.m. while the final is slated for 3 p.m.
“We played a great team over there,” Fawcetts coach Doug Hines said. “We feel confident (heading into) tomorrow. We’ll bounce back from this.”
Sean Cleary threw a two-hitter and struck out 12 (or two-thirds of the outs) for the victory. Mitch Hardy started for the Fawcetts and allowed three runs on four hits in three innings. Skelton pitched 2 2/3 innings of relief, giving up seven runs in the sixth inning.
Hines said the team needs all its pitchers during the tournament and decided to start Hardy on Saturday.
“We have to be thinking about games tomorrow too. We were happy with our decision. Mitch is a quality pitcher,” he said. “He pitched pretty well.”
Jeremy O’Reilly had an RBI single in the second inning to open the scoring. Jon Kelly hit a two-run home run in the fourth to give 3 Cheers a 3-0 lead.
“He hit the beer tent into a gust of wind. A huge hit for our team,” Mullaley said. “Jonny Kelly has been an unsung hero for Newfoundland for a lot of years and it’s great to see him start getting the recognition he deserves.”
It was the last batter Hardy would face.
Brad Ezekiel had a single and two RBIs, Ryan Boland was 2-for-2 with two runs scored, Colin Walsh was 2-for-3 with a run and Justin Gill was 1-for-2 with a run and an RBI. Kelly also added a single.
Jeff Ellsworth and Skelton had singles for the Fawcetts’ lone hits. Charlottetown has not won or loss two games in a row during the tournament.
“We definitely have to put it all together tomorrow, put some more balls in play and maybe play some small ball,” Hines said.
Mullaley said Newfoundland and Labrador teams have had struggles at the championship in year’s leading up to its back-to-back championships.
“We don’t take it for granted how hard it is to get to the championship, and even more so how hard it is to win this tournament,” he said. “We’ll be ready tomorrow.”
He said the first few innings are critical for both teams.
“That will tell the story,” he said. “If you get two hot pitchers, one swing of the bat can win you or lose you a championship.”
A Mark Lewis RBI triple in the first inning was all the run support Robbie Greene needed on Saturday.
Greene threw a one-hitter as Kelly’s Pub defeated the East Hants Mastodons 1-0 to advance to Sunday’s semifinal.
Greene struck out 13 and his only blemish of the day was a Jason Sanford double to centre field in the second inning.
Justin Schofield took the loss. He allowed a run on five hits while striking out nine and walking three.
Stephen Strapp was 1-for-2 and scored the lone run. Kyle Ezekiel, Andrew Wade and Geoff Evely had the other hits for the St. John’s, N.L., squad.