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Circus catch dashes Jays hopes

The Trail Jays came about a foot away from winning their tournament on the weekend, but a great last-inning catch at the fence snatched a victory for the Northeast 49ers.
The Trail Jays’ shortstop Garrett Kucher makes a superlative snag on a steep hop in the final of the Safety-Net Midsummer Classic Sunday. While the Jays played well defensively

The Trail Jays came about a foot away from winning their tournament on the weekend, but a great last-inning catch at the fence snatched a victory for the Northeast 49ers.

The Jays hosted their annual Safety-Net Midsummer Classic at Butler Park with the 49ers from Colville joining the Cranbrook Bandits, St. Albert Cardinals and the ‘AA’ West Kootenay Diamondbacks in the five-team event.

The Jays went through the round robin with three wins and one loss ceded to the 49ers on Saturday, 13-8.

The Jays’ record assured them a spot in the final on Sunday against the unbeaten Colville team.

The West Kootenay Diamondbacks meanwhile played great ball, beating both Cranbrook 12-6 and St. Albert 7-6 before bowing to both the Jays and Niners.

Finishing with the third best record, they played the Cardinals for third spot and came away with a 10-6 victory.

In the first-place final match, Jays’ pitcher Scott Robertson struggled in the first inning giving up three runs on two doubles and three singles.

But after that, the left-hander settled down going the distance and allowing no more runs, on three hits and two walks while striking out eight batters.

Unfortunately, the Jays’ bats remained silent, managing only one hit off 49ers pitcher Cody Thew, until the fourth inning when Dallas Calvin popped his fourth home run of the tournament to make it 3-1.

“I just try to sit on a fastball,” said Calvin who also went 2 for 2. Two earlier game blasts landed on the roof of the Aquatic Centre.

Prior to Calvin’s dinger, Gerry Rebelato was doubled off second after Thew snagged a Brady Glover liner catching Rebelato off the bag.

Two innings later, Garrett Kucher singled but was caught leading-off by a quick throw from the catcher.

The following batter, Glover, belted his second home run of the tourney, cutting the lead to one. But two solo homers easily could have been four runs if not for base running mistakes.

“It came down to executing,” said Jays coach Nick Combo. “We tried to execute and had a couple blunders that affected the game.”

“We try to live and die off the long ball and that’s hard to do . . . We swung the bats pretty well this weekend, I think our bats just kind of went cold that first five innings.”

In the top of seven, with the Jays down 3-2, catcher Kyle Paulson walked when hit by a pitch putting the winning run at the plate. Jesse Rypien bunted but was called out after the umpire determined he stepped on home plate.

Tanner Rotschy then stepped up and smashed a high fastball deep to left field.

The Colville fielder raced to the warning track and with his back tight against the fence, jumped up and snagged the long fly.

Rotschy played great defensively but wished the player were a foot shorter or the ball a foot higher.

“It would have been pretty awesome,” said Rotschy. “It would have been my first home run too.”

That was as close as the Jays would come as the Niners closed out the inning to take the tournament.

The Jays have a big week ahead of them with eight games in five days, all on the road starting Tuesday in Post Falls.

Jim Bailey

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