Newfoundland and Labrador was in trouble pretty much throughout what turned out to be a 15-0, six-inning loss to Quebec on a day when the skies continually spit a light rain on MacNeill Field in the Charlottetown suburb of Stratford, but in the early going, the score was actually pretty close.
The Terra Nova's worked and wriggled their way out of sticky situations in the first half of the contest, and only trailed 2-0 heading into the fourth inning. But that's where the Quebeckers put things away with six runs.
"It's always seems to be that one inning that does us in," said Newfoundland shortstop Kieran Buckingham of St. John's, who had one of his team's three hits and was on base another time on a borderline error.
"In other games lately, it's seemed to be in the early innings. Today, it was the middle, but it was that one bad inning."
Still, nobody was shocked by the loss - whatever the score - to Quebec, considered a strong bet for a medal here. The problem for the Terra Novas is that Ontario, another medal favourite, is also in their pool and will be their opponent 4:30 p.m. today at venerable Memorial Field in Charlottetown.
With only two teams advancing to the medal round from the pool, Buckingham says the Newfoundlanders are hopeful, but realistic.
"The truth is we'd be happy if we could improve our placing. Usually, we finish ninth or 10th (at national age-group events), so if we could be playing for fifth or sixth, that would really mean something."
That means Wednesday, when Newfoundland plays a double-header in Stratford against Atlantic arch-rivals New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, constitutes the big day for the boys in maroon. Buckingham will get the start on the mound in one of those games, with Stefan Lono, another leftthander from St. John's, set to do the pitching in the other.
Tyller Pittman of Bauline is scheduled to start against Ontario today.
Newfoundland and Labrador was denied a chance of virtually assuring itself a playoff spot in Canada Games male soccer Monday night by a scoreless tie against New Brunswick at the UPEI pitch in Charlottetown.
The preliminary round of Games soccer play involves games in four three-province pools, with the top two teams in each pool advancing to quarter-finals later in the week.
A victory Monday would have pretty well guaranteed Newfoundland a top-two spot in its pool. But with the draw, the Newfoundlanders will need a good result against Saskatchewan, the third team in the pool, when they meet 2:30 p.m. (NT) today in Souris, P.E.I.
"Disappointed about that one," said Newfoundland's Michael Dunne after Monday's game. "They were a man down (because of a red card) with 10 minutes left, but we couldn't put them away.
"We were all over them, but couldn't win.
The 16-year-old from St. John's agrees with those who say Newfoundland put in a gritty performance. But, for Dunne, there is no salve in grit alone.
"We've always shown our heart, but we want to do more than show our heart," he said. "We want to win. A tie is no good to us in a game like that. We want that win."
Newfoundland and Labrador's men's team suffered a pair of losses Monday as the Canada Games volleyball competition began at courts on the University of Prince Edward Island campus, falling 3-2 to Saskatchewan and 3-0 to Quebec.
Against the Prairie province, Newfoundland dropped the first two sets (25-19, 25-15) before battling back with 25-22 and 25-18 set wins. However, Saskatchewan won the abbreviated fifth and deciding set 15-10.
Against Quebec, Newfoundland may have been swept, but helped fashion what was the set of the entire day's competition, losing 31-29 in an extra-long opening frame.
Stats from the match against Saskatchewan were unavailable, but Max Burt of Gander and Brett Ledrew of Clarenville led the way against Quebec with 11 and eight kills, respectively.
Newfoundland's female v-ballers played just one game on Monday, losing 3-0 to British Columbia. Maura Hayes of Cupids and Erin Bursey of Weybridge each had eight kills.
Today, the Newfoundland women play Saskatchewan and Ontario, while the men face the Yukon and Ontario.
No Newfoundlanders advanced to finals or medal rounds at the UPEI Alumni track and field complex on a soggy Monday, but a number did make it to the consolation races.
They included Jesse Walsh of Burnt Cove, who finished 16th overall in the men's 100 metres, Chris Dugas in the male Special Olympics 100 metres, Katie Lydiate and Charlene Clarke of Fortune in the female Special Olympics 100 metres and Phil Leveque of St. John's in the triple jump.
Coming within one or two places of a spot in consolation finals were Nicolas Alacoque of St. John's in both the men's 400 and 800 metres and Darcy Buckingham of St. John's in the women's 400 metres, while Courtney King of St. John's was 15th overall in the women's 5,000 metres.
As well, Lesley Bautista of St. John's was just four centimetres short of earning a spot in the finals of the women's long jump. There is no consolation round in the event.
At the CARI Aquatic Centre at UPEI Monday, Nick Hogan of Steady Brook was 12th and Owen Daly of St. John's was 18th overall in the men's 800 metres; Nadine Rockwood of St. John's was 18th and Sarah Tremblett, also of St. John's, was 21st in the women's 1.500 metres.
The province's 4x200 metre men's relay team, consisting of Hogan, Day, Theoren Goosney of Corner Brook and Adam Harvey of Mount Pearl finished ninth overall, while the women's team of Rockwood, Becca Dyer of St. Philip's, Leah Tomblin of St. Philip's and Dayna Hogan of Stephenville was 10th.