Trail Minor Baseball held its Andy Bilesky Memorial Tournament on the weekend at Andy Bilesky Park and after three days of close and exciting games the final match did not disappoint.
The host team Trail Eagles met up with the Twins from Grand Forks, in what was a rematch from last week’s final in the Castlegar tournament. In that decisive game the Twins came out on top so Trail was eager to exact revenge.
After finishing first in round robin play, the Eagles needed to beat Castlegar to advance to the final. Down 5-4 in the fifth, it took a two-run homer in the top of the sixth and last inning by clutch pitcher Jake Yuris to put them ahead. Despite a sore arm, Yuris added three strikeouts to seal the 7-5 win.
“Jake’s been exceptional especially in the semis and the finals . . . you have nothing but good things to say about a kid like that who just performs well under pressure,” said Eagles assistant coach Mike Boisvert.
Grand Forks also had a tough semi match against the Beaver Valley Cardinals. But the Cardinals fell to the Twins 8-5 Sunday morning setting up the grudge match between the Eagles and Twins.
The Eagles came out pounding the ball as they counted 14 runs in the first four innings, capped by a round-tripper from Derek Green in the third.
The team cruised to a 14-7 lead until the fifth when Grand Forks gutted out a comeback.
The Twins scored four quick runs against Yuris and after a passed ball, with one out and two men on, things looked dire for the Trail right-hander.
But with the lead now cut to 14-11 and the tying run at the plate, there was no movement in the bullpen.
“It (pulling him) wasn’t even in my thought pattern,” said coach D. J. Ashman.
“That’s what makes good players good players . . . he’s one of our gamers, he’s a leader on our team and we need him pitching in the final inning.”
But the threat in the fifth didn’t rattle Yuris.
“I knew my team was there to back me up and we could get out of it,” he said.
The unflappable hurler got the next batter to fly out and the following hitter to ground out to short.
The Eagles scored a run in the top of sixth to extend their lead by four but if the Twins could duplicate their fifth inning output they could force extras.
Yuris bore down, mixing a two-seam fastball with a curve and striking out the first batter.
The next hitter stroked a drive down the third-base line but when he tried to stretch it to three bases, Trail left fielder Justin Coombes rifled the ball to cutoff man, shortstop Ross St. Jean, who relayed it to third baseman Cam Low for the tag and second out.
“It was unbelievable,” says Ashman. “We’re playing house ball and that was an all-star play. . . it was huge and it was a big boost for us.”
Yuris then neatly scooped up a comebacker to the mound for the third out and victory.
“When it came down to it, our team worked together, we were cheering as hard as we could and we came out on top with the gold,” said fielder Wyatt Soukeroff.
The Trail team will now prepare for the playoffs in two weeks.