Pepperjacks beat Dodgers in a marathon NAFA World Series AA Division Championship

Written by Bob on August 10th, 2014

PepperJacksTeam.138web The Pepperjacks of Nova Scotia won the 2014 NAFA World Series AA Division World Series in an all-Canadian final over the Dodgers of Alberta, Canada. Photo By BOB OTTO

QUAD CITIES, IA/IL – It took nine and one half hours, three games – two of them extra innings – and a battle that ended at 2:30 Sunday morning, before a bunch of strong-will Canadians could finally decide who had the best NAFA AA Division fastpitch team in all of North America.

It also took two huge hits and a lucky break before the Halifax Pepperjacks of Nova Scotia wrestled a 4-3 victory from the Lloydminster Dodgers from Alberta to claim the NAFA World Series AA championship.

Trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the seventh with two outs, the Pepperjacks rallied in a most dramatic and fortuitous way. Peter Messereau led of the inning and reached safely on an infield error.

But Dodgers’ pitcher Bryn Redhead reached back for a strikeout and ground out to put his team one-out away from the win and the championship.

But it was not to be.

    FASTPITCH’S KIRK GIBSON

Pepperjacks manager and infielder Tim Norris, who injured his quadriceps muscle in the previous game, was called on to pinch-hit. And did he ever deliver after he limped up to home plate Kirk Gibson style.

Norris drove a Redhead rise ball high and deep to the base of the left field fence, scoring Messereau to pull within a run. Then up to the plate stepped Elliott Wright. And he hit a high and deep bomb that landed close to the spot of Norris’s hit, sending home the tying run.

The Pepperjacks then got the biggest break in the three games that the two ball clubs played.

Rob Doiron hit a high, infield pop up that had Wright running from second at the crack of the bat. The ball was dropped and Wright slid safely into home with the winning run.

One side was devastated, while the other reveled in their comeback win.

Pepperjacks Jub.99web The Pepperjacks celebrate after their big win over the Dodgers. Photo By BOB OTTO

“It was a great tournament for our team,” said Norris. “It was perfect, even competition, and we had great games.”

The Dodgers scored a single run in the fourth on consecutive doubles by Cory Jones and Redhead, and again in the seventh when Jones singled into left field scoring two to give the Dodgers their 3-1 advantage.

    THREE-GAME ALL-CANADIAN BATTLE

The two teams met three times in the tournament, with the Dodgers beating the Pepperjacks 2-1 in eight innings in the winners bracket final.

The Pepperjacks then went on a three-game win streak to grab the championship. They beat Cleon’s Auto of Washington 7-6 in the losers bracket final, to get another crack at the Dodgers.

But that opportunity appeared in doubt when Pepperjacks’ starting pitcher, Ryan Forsythe, was hit by a vicious line drive off his pitching shoulder and had to leave the game.

Norris turned to his ace Rene D’Entremont, and the right-hander with a hard-breaking drop ball responded brilliantly.

    AN MVP PERFORMANCE

In relief of Forsythe, he pitched 9 2/3 innings, allowing six hits, two walks with seven strikeouts to lead the Dodgers to a 1-0 win. In the bottom of the 10th, Doiron singled up the middle to drive in the winning run; setting up the winner-take-all championship.

After a 20-minute break, Norris handed D’Entremont the ball in the finale. And again he pitched a strong game, giving up the two runs on nine hits, walking none, along with five strikeouts.

For his performance, D’Entremont was selected the Most Valuable Player.

“Rene was amazing in both (championship) games,” Norris said. “He just kept going back out there. We couldn’t get anything going, but Rene stuck with us and he made it happen.”

On the Dodgers side, they also had a strong performance from the right-handed Redhead, who was selected the tournament’s Most Valuable Pitcher.

Bryn Redhead pitched two back-to-back strong games for the Dodgers and was selected the AA-Division Most Valuable Pitcher. Photo By BOB OTTO

Bryn Redhead pitched two back-to-back strong games for the Dodgers and was selected the AA-Division Most Valuable Pitcher. Photo By BOB OTTO

In the first championship game, he went the entire 10 innings, allowing the one run on four hits, five walks, with 12 strikeouts. And in the second meeting with the Pepperjacks, had it not been for the errors, he could have come away the winner.

He gave up just one earned run on five hits, two walks, and struck out 11.

But Norris and Wright came through with those two big clutch doubles to help give Pepperjacks the win.

“We got a couple of good pitches to hit and we laid the bats on it and got lucky,” Norris said, adding, “They asked me if I would pinch hit for Rene. I said I’d give it a shot. I got a ball down the middle and it happened.”

D’Entremont, who was given the water cooler shower after the game and then sprawled out on the ground with the look of exhaustion, was none-the-less pleased with the teams NAFA championship.

“It feels pretty great to win this in our first trip to NAFA,” he said. “I was feeling good when I came in relief (of Forsythe) and just wanted to get outs. I knew the guys behind me would make the plays.”

In AA / AA-Major pool play and in the AA double elimination tournament, D’Entremont finished with a 5-1 record in 36 2/3 innings, allowing 13 earned runs with 33 strikeouts, and a 2.48 ERA.

The All-World team included pitcher Trevor McCabe, Kyle Parson, Cory Jones, and Brayden Arcand from the Dodgers. And from the Pepperjacks, Rob Dorien, Tim Norris, Craig Manuel, and Tristan Richards were selected.

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