The Yorkton Yankees hosted the Willowbrook Royals for a pivotal Game Three last Tuesday, August 5 at Jubilee Park in Yorkton.
With a win, the Yankees would take a two-games-to-one stranglehold in the Best-of-Five SESBL Championship series. A loss, however, would give the Royals the advantage and put the Yankees quest for their third consecutive SESBL title in serious jeopardy.
Things started out well for the Yankees as their ace, Logan Calanchie, took to the mound with the idea of carving up the Royals bats for the second time in the series following a Game One performance in which he outdueled Royals powerhouse lefty Tyson Nesbitt for a 1-0 win.
Willowbrook, however, had different ideas as they pounced on Calanchie and, aided by a few early Yankees errors, took a lead that they would never surrender en route to an 8-5 win and a 2-1 series lead.
“We started off a little rusty, booted a few balls here and there and opened things up for them,” offered a dejected Yankees player/manager Mark Jacobs following the Game Three defeat. “Timely hitting on their part and we couldn’t cash our guys in. We got guys on base like they did but they did a better job of capitalizing on their chances.
“They hit the ball when they needed to and for the most part we didn’t.”
Jacobs then went on to add that, while Calanchie might not have had his best stuff on the night, the loss is still not entirely his fault. Instead it was the Yankee defence, often stout but as of late flimsy, that should shoulder the blame. “Every game our pitchers go out there and give us a chance to win. Even tonight Logan didn’t throw a bad game by any means,” suggested Jacobs, continuing, “We made two or three errors that one inning there and they scored a couple of runs to go ahead.”
Errors also cost the Yankees in Game Two in Willowbrook. But while they could lay part of the blame on the field conditions in the second game, after all the infield and outfield in Willowbrook leaves something to be desired, the field in Game Three, a WMBL-calibre Jubilee Park, was crisp, clean and nearly perfect, leaving no room for excuses.
But now it’s back to Willowbrook and their Field of Nightmares for a do-or-die must-win Game Four. But with the ghosts of Games Two and Three haunting them, how do the Yankees prepare for their first elimination game since the 2012 first round series against the Langenburg Indians? “We just have to be ready to play. It’s (the field) the same for both teams,” mentioned Jacobs. “It’s senior ball so you can’t expect to have a Rogers Centre or Yankees Stadium quality field for every park.
“In the end you’ve got to make your plays. It’s still baseball at the end of the day and anything can happen.”
This past weekend was a busy one for the Yorkton Yankees.
On Friday the Yankees traveled to Carlyle for Game One of the Saskatchewan Senior ‘A’ Provincials, where they took on the Watrous Lakers.
Yorkton flexed their muscles against Watrous, using a couple of two out rallies to sink the Lakers in a mercy rule shortened 15-3 win. Dave Morari picked up the win in the opening game of the Provincials while Matt Poier hit a three run bomb to really fire up the Yankees offence.
The Yankees then made the journey to Kenosee for games two and three of the Provincial tournament.
And while the field was different the results were the same as Yorkton downed the Macklin Lakers 6-0 in Game Two (won by Travis Fogg) before slaughtering the Findlater Braves 11-0 (winning pitcher was Derek Palagian) for their third win of the tournament and first place in Pool ‘A’.
The 3-0 record meant that they would have home field advantage against the second place team from Pool ‘B’, the Meadow Lake White Sox in Carlyle on Sunday morning.
The semi-final game proved to be far more difficult than the previous three games of the Provincials as the Yankees took a two run lead, 5-3, into the sixth inning before the Sox rallied for a pair of runs to make it 5-5 heading into the seventh. But the Yankees didn’t panic and, after loading the bases in the bottom of the seventh, Jeremy Johnson singled to win the game and send the Yankees into the final against the host Carlyle Cardinals.
Unfortunately the Yankees simply ran out of gas, falling 8-3 in the finals to Carlyle to finish second place at Senior ‘A’ Provincials. “It sucks to lose but at the same time I’m proud of the guys for battling and playing as good as they did over the weekend,” offered player/coach Mark Jacobs. “Five games in two and a half days isn’t easy. It’s a lot of baseball in a short amount of time and we’re still not done as we still have to play Willowbrook in league playoffs.”
The Yorkton Yankees traveled to Willowbrook last night (Tuesday) for Game Four of the SESBL Championship series; however results were unavailable at press time.
Game Five (if needed) is set for tonight when the Yankees host the Royal for the fifth and final game of the SESBL Championship series. First pitch, if the game is needed, is set for 8:00p.m.