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Peewee Chuckers' season ends in heartbreak
They lost just three times all season. Unfortunately, the last cut short the Richmond Chuckers' anticipated championship run at the provincial Peewee AAA baseball championship in Sunday's semifinals at Cloverdale.
Abbotsford Angels took an early lead, held off a bases-loaded rally by the Chuckers in the bottom of the eighth inning, and then got a solo home run by Logan McDonald in the second extra inning to squeeze out a dramatic 7-6 victory in the nine-inning contest. The Angels went on to win the championship and will represent B.C. at the nationals Aug. 21 to 25 in London, Ont.
But it wasn't all heartbreak for the Chuckers. Besides going into the provincial tournament as the No. 1 seed, with a 12-1 record, they came home with well-deserved bronze medals for their efforts. And they got more good news when the Angels asked two Chuckers—Josh Moscovitz and Peter Broderick, to join them in representing B.C. at the Canadians. Then the coach of Cloverdale, which finished second, requested Reid Dawson and Jonny McGill join them at the Western Canadian championships in Altona, Man.
"That's pretty big for our program," said Richmond coach Scott Lunny. "Having our full Chuckers team go to either westerns or nationals would have been ideal, but to have four Richmond players picked up makes us pretty darn proud."
Richmond went 3-1 in round-robin play. Upset in the opening game 8-5 by Vancouver Minor, in which Peter Broderick pitched five solid innings and scored twice for the Chuckers, McGill and Duke Howells had a pair of hits each, and Dawson, Gabriel Suessenbacher-Fu and Dustin McElwain also got on base, the Chuckers rallied to outscore a scrappy Victoria Black Eagles 8-5 on eight hits. McGill again contributed a pair of hits along with Ethan Hong, while Suessenbacher-Fu, McElwain, Josh Moscovitz and Justin Thorsteinson shared the pitching duties. Richmond then edged stingy Cloverdale Spurs 3-2, largely on the back of pitcher McGill who allowed only two runs over seven innings. They closed out round-robin play with a 19-2 win over Aldergrove backed by strong pitching from Moscovitz and Dawson. Broderick Hong contributed three of the 20 Chucker hits.
In the semifinals, Hiroki Sato scored after drawing a walk in the second inning on a ground ball by Montaro Uyeyama and powered in two runs in the third to briefly the tie the game against Abbotsford. He also had a key hit in extra innings, but the Chuckers were unable to cash him in. Abbotsford again took the lead in the fourth inning on a solo shot from Connol Sexton, who also pitched a strong four innings for the Angels. After adding another run, the Angels gave up three runs in the bottom of the sixth to put the Chuckers ahead 6-5. Broderick and McElwain got on base with successive singles, and Moscovitz reached on an error, before Ethan Hong drove in the go-ahead run with a two-RBI drive to right center field. The Chuckers almost put the game away but for a game-saving, diving, two-out catch by Sexton in right field.
The Angels took advantage of the brief opening to tie the game in the top of the seventh inning, but weren’t able to add the go-ahead run due to a heads-up 4-3-2 double-play initiated by Chuckers’ second baseman Andy Loat. The game remained tied at 6-6 until the ninth inning, largely due to solid relief pitching from two lefties: Richmond’s Thorsteinson and Abbotsford’s Carlin Dick.
The Chuckers almost won it in the bottom of the eighth inning with the bases loaded, but the Angels made a great play on a hard-hit Suessenbacher-Fu ground ball to end the inning.