By Jacob Noseworthy
Day three of the 2017 Grand Forks International began early Thursday morning and wrapped up just beyond midnight on Friday.
The Highline Bears and Alaska Goldpanners finished up their round-robin games in the tournament, while the other eight teams featured played their second of three games.
North Sound Emeralds 11 at Highline Bears 1
W: Sam Wyatt L: Ian Turner Home Plate Umpire: Blaise Laveay
In the first game of the day, the North Sound Emeralds soundly beat the Highline Bears 11-1 to improve their tournament record to 2-0.
The Bears, playing for the third straight day, made costly errors in the second and third innings, allowing North Sound to possess a commanding 7-1 lead after three innings of play.
Highline struggled again to get their offence going with the team earning only six runs through their three GFI games.
The Emeralds, however, were strong offensively and defensively, as they earned 16 hits over the seven innings and only allowed two.
Guthrie Morrison, the centre fielder for the Emeralds, stood out going 4/5 at the plate and scoring two RBIs.
The game was Highline’s final game of the tournament as the team failed to qualify for the Money Round. They went 0-3 with six runs for and 30 runs against.
Everett Merchants 0 at Alaska Goldpanners 1
W: Andrew Fernandez L: Max Dwyer Home Plate Umpire: Rob Allan
The Alaska Goldpanners struck lucky in the bottom of the 12th inning, winning the marathon game against the Everett Merchants 1-0.
While both sides failed to capitalize on their offensive opportunities, with both leaving men in scoring position multiple times, the game also served as a showcase for Alaska and Everett’s pitching staffs and defence.
Although the game was not the longest in terms of minutes played of the day, the lack of scoring made it feel longer for the early afternoon crowd at James Donaldson. Near the bottom of the 11th inning, some fans started rooting for the game to be over, while one fan jokingly encouraged the umpire to call a foul ball fair so the game could end.
Despite the lack of runs on the board, the Goldpanners and Merchants both proved themselves to be strong defensive teams and contenders in the tournament.
The game was Alaska’s final of the round-robin as they finished with a 2-1 record, 15 runs for, and seven runs against, putting them strongly in contention for a spot in the Money Round on Saturday.
Westchase Express 2 at Burnaby Bulldogs 6
W: Shawn Schaefer L: Aaron Gonzales Home Plate Umpire: Scott Eckardt
In a rematch of one of 2016’s quarterfinals, the Burnaby Bulldogs found similar success as in the past in their 6-2 win over the Westchase Express.
Burnaby struck quickly with three runs in both the first and second innings to pull ahead 6-0 early in the game and establish an insurmountable lead.
Outside the first two innings the Express outplayed the Bulldogs, however, scoring two runs of their own and holding the Bulldogs to only two hits in the remainder of the game.
Much like Wednesday’s game between Seattle and Burnaby, the final score did not tell the entire tale of the game, as Westchase put together several strong innings compared to Burnaby’s two.
Westchase’s second baseman Jonas Garcia was notable for his three stolen bases throughout the game.
Seattle Studs 11 at West Coast Guns 4
W: Mitchel Viydo L: Keenan Milligan Home Plate Umpires: Joe Mallinson and Rhonda Pauls
The defending champion Seattle Studs continued their good form at the GFI with a strong showing in their 11-4 win over the West Coast Guns.
Thanks to a four-run performance in both the third and fourth innings, the Studs took control of the game from an early point and refused to relinquish it.
Despite Seattle’s win, the play of the game was by the Guns’ catcher Ian Sugrue. In the first inning, with runners on first and second, Seattle’s Kyle Boe attempted to lay down a bunt.
The bunt popped up slightly into the air, but Sugrue dove forward over the plate to catch the ball bare-handed before throwing out the runner on first.
The game also came with misfortune, however.
In the bottom of the second inning, a pitch bounced up and struck home plate umpire Joe Mallinson in the neck. After worrisome moments, Mallinson was able to get back up and make it off the field.
The game was slightly delayed as Rhonda Pauls changed for the job behind the plate, but PA announcer Eric Konkin announced that Mallinson was okay and the remainder of the game carried on.
Northwest Honkers 1 at San Francisco Seals 9
W: Kenny Hinton L: Chaz Lopez Home Plate Umpire: Blaise Laveay
The final game of the night was a sluggish one as the San Francisco Seals beat the Northwest Honkers 9-1.
Despite the game only taking six and a half innings, the shortest allowed by GFI rules, the first several innings were protracted with long delays between pitches and plays.
Notably, San Francisco managed to score their nine runs with only four hits due to the 11 walks given up by the Northwest pitchers.
With very little hitting, the slow pace of the game, San Francisco’s large lead, and the final innings stretching into the early hours of Friday, most of James Donaldson Park had cleared out for the night by the time the oddly surreal feeling game had finished.