By Christian J. Stewart
Greater Victoria Minor Baseball
Team Quebec took advantage of 4 Victoria errors in the 5th and 6th innings to score 4 unearned runs, breaking open a tight 2-2 battle and defeating Victoria 7-2 to capture the Gold Medal at the 2006 Pee Wee AAA National Championships.
This game had all the earmarks of a classic pitching duel, as the starting pitchers for both teams - Nick Pavetta for Victoria (5 innings pitched, 2 earned runs, 6 hits, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts) and Mathieu Ouimet for Quebec (5 innings pitched, 2 runs, 7 hits, 0 walks, 5 strikeouts), were on the top of their games, baffling opposing batters and keeping the game close.
Quebec opened the scoring in the bottom of the 3rd inning by pushing 2 runs across the plate. Cedric Pinet singled and was bunted to third by Marc-Andre Payette, who also reached base on the play on an error (Victoria's 1st of the game) by Pavetta. A wild pitch then scored Pinet and moved Payette up to third where he was then batted in on a single by Mathieu Vertefeuille.
Victoria responded quickly with 2 of their own runs in the top of the 4th. Luke Hawkins started the rally with a single and after a strikeout to Matt Ney, Jackson McCuaig and Colton Lindsay put together back to back singles to score Hawkins. Hudson Brown then reached on a fielder's choice for the second out and then Ryan Adkins launched a clutch 2 strike single up the middle to score Lindsay and tie the game.
After a scoreless bottom of the 4th for Quebec, Victoria started off the 5th inning with a solid single by leadoff hitter Hodges. At that point, Quebec starter Ouimet was pulled in favour of reliever Bergeron. After retiring Justin Meurs on a sacrifice bunt (moving Hodges to second), Bergeron struck out 2 of the next three batters to end the Victoria threat.
In the bottom of the 5th for Quebec, leadoff hitter Payette singled, stole second and then was balked to third. Sensing that one run may be all that was needed to win, Ouimet was asked to squeeze Payette in from third, but his bunt was too close to the pitcher and Pavetta made a great play to Victoria catcher Lindsay to cut Payette down at the plate. Having reached first on the play, Ouimet was then balked to second by Pavetta and then was knocked home by an RBI single by Philippe Banville, who advanced to second on the throw to the plate. Banville then stole third and scored on what should have been the third out of the inning, when an easy pop-up lofted by Quebec's Kevin Bergeron was dropped at first base. At that point, Victoria hurler Pavetta was replaced by reliever Jesse Hodges, who began his relief appearance by throwing the ball away on a pick off move to first, allowing Bergeron to move up to second. Hodges then atoned for his error by making a nice move to second to catch Bergeron off the base, catching him in a run-down and then throwing him out at third base to end the inning.
Following a scoreless top of the 6th for Victoria, Quebec began the bottom of the 6th with leadoff hitter Mathieu Marcoux reaching on a single. Hamza Naim then stroked a hard hit ball that handcuffed Victoria shortstop Ryan Adkins and Quebec found themselves with runners on first and second. Nicholas Senechal then moved both runners up with a sacrifice bunt. Cedric Pinet followed and launched an easy to a popup to short that Adkins lost in the sun and had deflect off his glove to the ground, allowing Marcoux to score Quebec's 5th run. After a ground out to third, Ouimet followed this up with a scorching 2 RBI ground rule double that one-hopped over the left field fence, scoring Naim and Pinet and giving Quebec a 7-2 lead.
Victoria would not give up easily however and with Quebec closer Naim on the mound, Victoria gave the many fans in attendance some hope. Pinch hitter Alex Dumais began things by striking out, however he reached first when the third strike went back to the screen on a wild pitch. Leadoff hitter Hodges then stepped to the plate and was drilled in the leg by a Naim fastball. A walk to Meurs then loaded the bases with the heart of the Victoria lineup coming to bat. This did not seem to faze Naim in the least, as he regained his composure and control to strike out the next three batters, including hard hitting Luke Hawkins and Matt Ney, to close out the big win for Team Quebec.
Congratulations Team Quebec - Pee Wee AAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!
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