Monday night was Dylan Haney’s first time on the rubber this year, but you sure weren’t able to tell.
The GW Vacuum Truck Service Young Guns starting pitcher led his team to victory on Monday, topping the RFNOW Cardinals 5-3 in Game 3 of the best-of-five Andrew Agencies Senior AA Baseball League championship series to give his team a 2-1 lead. This season’s (potential) final showdown begins 6:30 p.m. tonight at Sumner Field.
The Guns’ bats were working hard, but it was Haney’s multiple 1-2-3 shutdown innings and complete-game five-hitter that really kept the Young Guns on top.
While he doesn’t usually pitch, Haney will be out of town for the rest of the series. To him, "getting in there and throwing the ball one last time" seemed like the fun thing to do.
"I haven’t thrown in a long time, so it was good to be back in front of the guys and pick up a win. There was some great defence out there that really helped me along," Haney said.
In addition to great defence, Guns’ batters like Garret Popplestone and Mark Derlago chipped in with some heavy-duty offence.
Popplestone scored a run, had three hits and a RBI for the Young Guns. Derlago scored two runs and had two hits.
Like every other game this series, it was the Young Guns got off to the early lead. By the end of the first, they already notched three runs.
While Haney’s main contribution was on the mound, he also had an RBI in the third to make it a 4-0 game.
In the top of the fourth, Guns’ Andrew Janz got hit in the back by a pitch at the hands of Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Hartman. He ended up scoring an unearned run to make it a 5-0 game when Derlago singled him home.
But, in true Cardinals style, the team refused to go down without a fight. After Danny Cochrane and Chris Kennedy singled in the top of the fifth, Shayne MacGranachan hit a long single to bring home his teammates and pull the Cards within three.
With bases loaded soon after, Brody Pinkerton made it a 5-3 game when he hit a single to score MacGranachan, who beat the tag at home plate by just a sliver.
With two outs already, Haney regained control and got the third out to end the Cards’ scoring spree.
Headed into Monday’s match, the teams were tied a game a piece. The Cards took Game 1, while the Young Guns answered back in Game 2. With the Guns now leading the series 2-1, tonight’s game is make-or-break for the Cards.
"We always have a good battle with these guys, every year it’s back and forth. To be up 2-1 in the series is a great feeling, we’ll just come and play (Tuesday) and see what happens," said Haney.
If the Guns win the championship tonight, it will be their first time since 2016.
Last year they came close, but fell in a dramatic 3-2 series with the Cards. The Cardinals won the first two games, the Guns battled back to win the next two, but the Cards prevailed in Game 5.
Elsewhere, playoff action begins in the South West Baseball League tonight with a pair of play-in games. The top four teams then meet.
In the Santa Clara Baseball League, the visiting Carberry Royals beat the Neepawa Cubs 12-2 and the Portage Padres topped the visiting Plumas Pirates 12-2.
In the Border Baseball League, the Baldur Regals visit the Pilot Mound Pilots as that loop prepares for its season-ending tournament.
» Twitter: @devonshewchuk