After reeling off three straight wins to open the 2009 Canada Cup at home, Team Saskatchewan's medal hopes unravelled in a span of less than 15 hours.
An 8-1 rout at the hands of Nova Scotia on Saturday morning dropped Sask. to 3-2 and ended any hope of a medal at the tournament. The loss gives the hometown squad a third-place finish in Pool B, relegating them to the seventh-place game against Manitoba at noon on Sunday at Flanagan Park.
Saskatchewan was forced to turn around quickly after an unsettling 3-1 loss to Alberta Friday night, their first of the round-robin.
"We were fortunate that they played last night and then had an early morning game. We knew that coming in," said Nova Scotia head coach Jim Mosher, whose team moves on to play Quebec in tonight's quarterfinal game by virtue of their second-place finish in Pool B.
"Today we got out to an early lead and we knew we had a guy on the mound that we had a lot of trust in. He pitched very well for us this year and he did that again. We were able to play solid D and ride it to the end."
It was the fourth straight win for the red-hot Bluenosers after losing their opener to Alberta on Wednesday.
Fifteen-year-old Tanner Spencer made his first Canada Cup start for Sask. and struggled with his location in the early going. Nova Scotia jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first, with David McIntyre crossing the plate on a wild pitch and Kevin Jackson scoring on a sac fly to centre field by Joey Cavadini.
Connor Sullivan scored Nova Scotia's third run in the second on a potential double play ball that resulted in only one out.
Spencer would leave the game after three innings and take the loss, having allowed three runs on three hits, two walks, two hit batters and two strikeouts. The highlight of his outing came in the bottom of the third when he snagged a comebacker from Cavadini and caught a runner off first base for a double play.
Kindersley's Sean Flanagan, who got back in the Sask. line-up Friday night after not starting games on Thursday against Newfoundland and P.E.I., was inserted as a pinch-runner in the third and stayed in the game at second base for the remainder.
Sask. made it 3-1 in the fourth when Brady Guimond's single to left-centre field plated Dakota Fedak.
At the half-inning, Mosher spurred his team to "win the inning, win every inning" and they responded, scoring twice and never looking back.
In the fifth, leading 5-1, Nova Scotia executed a perfect suicide squeeze to tack on another run. Jeremy Nichole bolted from third base as reliever Reilley Grose went into his delivery, and Luke Conrad laid a textbook bunt down the third base line to leave Grose no play at the plate.
The club added two more runs in the sixth before Flanagan turned an impressive double play to end the inning.
Mosher said his team's four-game win streak bodes well heading into the playoffs, but the Nova Scotians, who have never won a medal at the Canada Cup, can't fall into the trap of looking ahead.
"Momentum sure is very important as far as the tournament goes and we're looking to (carry) that through to when we play tonight," Mosher said. "We're just going out there to compete, taking it one game at a time.
"We do have depth in pitching and we want to see how we compete against upper-echelon teams and in order for us to do that, we have to take it game to game," he continued. "So a medal is way down the road, still."