As the outside pitch was called ball four, the Saskatchewan dugout emptied in joy, a dejected Prince Edward Island club walked off the field and the crowd at Berard Field went wild.
All this for a walk?
Well, this was no ordinary base on balls to Dylan Ramsay. It came with the bases loaded in extra innings, and it capped off an astonishing nine-run comeback for Team Sask. en route to a 10-9 win over P.E.I.
"I had a feeling we were going to come back," said Sask. designated hitter and cleanup man Dakota Fedak, who also pitched the final two-thirds in extras.
The Islanders had built a 9-1 lead through the top of the fifth inning to put the game seemingly out of reach. But Sask. came right back with three runs in the bottom of the fifth and another two in the sixth to make it 9-6. P.E.I. starter Mitch MacLean left the game with two outs in the sixth in favour of Josh Kirkpatrick.
In the bottom of the seventh, with the bases loaded and only one out, the normally steady Alex Abbott botched Ramsay's grounder to second base, allowing Boston Leier to cross the plate. First baseman Ben Douglas, hitting 0-for-8 in the tournament, came through with a clutch two-run single to right field to tie the game. With runners still on base, Kirkpatrick worked Cole Bauml to a full count and then struck him out swinging to send the game to extras.
With all the momentum on Saskatchewan's side entering the eighth, the Sask. flag made its way around the stands and suddenly P.E.I., so dominant earlier in the game, was facing an incredibly intimidating environment. They got two runners on base in the top of the eighth, but couldn't bring them home.
Despite being knocked around in the seventh, Kirkpatrick was left in to pitch the eighth and continued to struggle. With one runner on and two outs, the reliever had an opportunity to punch out Sask. No. 9 hitter Luke Barry, but walked him to bring up the top of the order. With no one in the bullpen, Kirkpatrick hit leadoff hitter Brett Forst to load the bases and then walked Ramsay to bring in the winning run.
"Getting guys on base," Fedak said of the key reason for the comeback. "We had to get a few on base and a few good hits, that was key."
P.E.I. head coach Jason Monaghan acknowledged that his team blew a major opportunity to win the B pool, but must pick up its socks and get wins against Nova Scotia and Manitoba.
"Just a couple of key base hits on their part, a couple of crucial errors on our part, and that turns the whole ball game around," said Monaghan. "This is by far our biggest game of the tournament so far, but we can't get down after this, this is just the start. We still got another two full days left and we're going to get a couple of W's.
"We got a good group of 18 guys here that know we can win," he added. "They believe that they can beat any team in this tournament right now."
P.E.I. had racked up its eight-run lead by scoring four in the first, three more in the fourth and two in the fifth, with Brody MacDonald's 2-for-5, four-RBI performance leading the way. Abbott went 2-for-4 with one RBI.
For Saskatchewan, Forst went 2-for-3 with a walk and was hit twice. Fedak was 2-for-4 with a walk and two ribbies. Game MVPs were MacLean for P.E.I. and Douglas for Sask.
Earlier in the day, Sask. clobbered Newfoundland 10-2 to move to 2-0. Ramsay went 3-for-3 with two walks and two stolen bases, earning the team's MVP award. Kris Keating got the start and carried a no-hitter into the fifth before it was broken up by a bloop single from Andrew Mercer.
After two full days at the Canada Cup, Team Saskatchewan sits alone atop Pool B at 3-0. Alberta, Manitoba and Nova Scotia are all 2-1.