Bulldog fall short in classic semi-finals game

 

By Joel Charron

The General Amherst Bulldogs boys’ baseball team’s bid for a WECSSAA championship came up short Thursday morning, but it wasn’t because of a lack of effort.

The Bulldogs finished day one of the double elimination tournament with a record of 2-1, defeating L’Essor 4-3 and Massey 3-2 while dropping a game to Essex 3-2, good enough to advance to the semi-finals against the defending OFSSA champs Holy Name Knights, a matchup manager Frank Federico was asking for before the playoff tournament began.

In the early going Amherst seemed to be outmatched, allowing the Knights to score four runs in the first three innings.

Kyle Goodchild put the Bulldogs on the board after driving in Matt Bondy on an RBI single.

After the Knights tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the fifth, Amherst faced a 6-1 deficit with only six outs left.

Jeff Watkin slides into home plate. Watkin's run tied the game in the seventh innings after entering the sixth inning trailing 6-1.

Amherst closed the gap in the top of the sixth.

With bases loaded, Mitch Girard drove in a pair with a single and Goodchild cashed in another run with a sacrifice fly to left field as the Bulldogs trimmed the lead down to 6-4.

After shutting down the Knights potent offence, the Bulldogs went to work in the top of the seventh inning.

With two runners on base, Chase Walach connected with an RBI single, followed by an RBI double by Walkins to tie the game at 6-6.

Amherst took the lead for the first time when Walach touched home plate on a Holy Names throwing error.

The lead was short lived as Holy Names tied the game at 7-7 in their half of the inning.

After Amherst failed to tack on any runs in the top of the eighth, Holy Names ended the Bulldogs dreams of a championship with a two-run walk off blast to right field.

“That has to be one of the best games I’ve ever been a part of,” said Federico. “I’m so proud of my guys.”

Federico said his squad could have “easily packed it in” being down 6-1 going into the sixth inning but showed a “strong championship spirit” to mount a comeback.

“To come back like that against the defending Ontario champs which has three Team Canada players is simply unbelievable,” stated Federico.

Federico added that the Bulldogs proved they could play with the best teams in the region.

“We gave them our best and they needed more than their best to beat us,” he said.

Mitch Girard, who played his last baseball game in an Amherst jersey, said he was proud of his team for the way they battled back.

“I’m proud of them,” said Girard. “We stayed with them (Holy Names) the whole game.”

Girard noted that the Bulldogs are a team that knows how to come back from late inning deficits.

“It’s just how we played all season. We knew that we could put together a rally,” he said.

Although the outcome wasn’t exactly how Federico wanted it, he said his players have nothing to be ashamed of.

“They played their butts off and that’s all I can ask. These boys never cease to amaze me,” said Federico.

 

 

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