2016 Grand Forks International – Day One Recap
Posted on June 29, 2016From grearwhitenorthsports.com
The 35th iteration of the Grand Forks International got off to a great start at James Donaldson Park on Tuesday, June 28th with three games featuring teams from all across North America.
Calgary Sidearm Nation 7 – 5 Kamloops Sun Devils
It was an all-Canadian affair to start the 2016 GFI, as newcomers in the Calgary Sidearm Nation took on GFI veterans in the Kamloops Sun Devils.
It looked like there was no stopping the Calgary team early on as they roared to a 7-1 lead by the end of the fourth inning. At the rate that the Sidearm Nation was going, it began to look like the first game of the tournament could eventually invoke the eight-run mercy rule.
The Sun Devils were resilient, however, and had no plans of giving up. They had a dominant fifth inning to earn four runs and put the game back within reach at 7-5 in favour of the Nation.
From then on out, the offence dried up for both teams with no runs scored in the final four innings of the game. The game ended 7-5 for the Calgary Sidearm Nation.
Two of the strongest players of the game came from the victorious Sidearm Nation in centre fielder Garrett Regan and shortstop Roberto Valdez. Both players had commanding performances earning matching .800 batting averages in five trips to the plate each. Both players scored once on their four hits and Regan also earned himself an RBI.
Kamloops pitcher Erik Herbanson also played well for his team, pitching all nine innings, striking out 13 and only walking five players over the course of the nearly three-hour game.
The game was also a homecoming of sorts for Grand Forks native and Sun Devils left fielder Isiah McDonald. McDonald unfortunately only got on base once in his four at bats after being hit by a pitch, but showcased his worth as one of only two players in the game to steal a base successfully.
Both teams get Wednesday off, but the Sun Devils play again Thursday at 11:00 AM against the Thurston County Senators, while the Sidearm Nation get the night game on Thursday at 8:00 PM against the defending champions Seattle Studs.
Snoqualmie Valley Hurricanes 7 – 12 Houston-Westchase Express
Heading into the second game of the day between two GFI newcomers, the Snoqualmie Valley Hurricanes knew they’d have a challenge against American Amateur Baseball Congress champions, the Houston-Westchase Express.
Snoqualmie was ready for a fight, though. They issued their challenge to the Express with a strong top of the first, putting them up 3-0 at the beginning of the game.
Despite the preparedness of the Hurricanes, the experienced Westchase side struck back, going up 12-4 by the end of the fourth inning, putting the game in mercy rule territory.
The Hurricanes refused to give up though, as they scored an additional three runs over the final five innings, but came up short. Notably, they utilised the seven walks that Westchase gave up throughout the game to score seven runs on only six hits.
The game ended in victory for the AABC champs Express with a 12-7 win.
The player of the game for Westchase was right fielder Weston Tally who earned himself a perfect 1.000 batting average with four hits, three runs batted in, three RBIs, and one home run in his four trips to the plate.
Snoqualmie’s player of the game was spectacular relief pitcher Jake Masters who, in his four innings pitched, shut down the Westchase bats, allowing only two hits, no runs, and no walks. He struck out three in the process of earning his perfect 0.00 ERA.
Snoqualmie next plays Wednesday’s 8:00 PM night game against 2015 runners-up Everett Merchants, while Westchase enjoys a day off before an early start at 8:00 AM on Thursday against the West Coast Guns.
San Francisco Seals 3 – 7 North Sound Emeralds
The final game of the first day of GFI action pitted the historic San Francisco Seals, their namesake having been founded in 1903, against the formidable North Sound Emeralds, who were returning to the GFI again.
After a slow beginning to the evening game, the Emeralds started to heat up, earning three runs in both the third and fifth innings to put them up 6-0 at the end of the fifth.
For the third time in three games it looked like the mercy rule might possibly come into effect, but yet again, the opponents battled back.
The Seals held North Sound to only one run in the latter half of the game, but struggled against the Emeralds’ strong defence which only allowed three runs throughout the nine innings.
Despite San Francisco’s best efforts in the hard fought game, North Sound ultimately came out on top with the 7-3 victory to propel them to the top of their group, early on in the tournament.
Without a doubt, North Sound’s starting pitcher Zach Johnson was the best player in the game for either team. In six innings pitched, Johnson only allowed six hits, one run, and two walks, while striking out an astounding 12 players, to earn himself an impressive 1.50 ERA.
San Francisco’s relief pitcher Blaze Hastings also had himself a good game, however, allowing no earned runs and striking out four in four innings on the mound.
The Emeralds play again Wednesday at 5:00 PM against the Burnaby Bulldogs, who will be playing their second game of the day, while the Seals rest up for Burnaby on Thursday at 2:00 PM.