The Trail AAA Jays played inspired baseball on the weekend, even without their pitching ace and leading batter Dallas Calvin.
The Jays won three of five at the American Legion Wood Bat Classic in Spokane last week, and with a 3-1 record in the round-robin were tied for a wild-card spot for the playoff round.
Unfortunately, the playoff spots were decided by run-differential and the Jays came up just short.
“There were only two wild cards, and it came down to a run differential and we missed it by three runs,” said Jays coach Nick Combo.
The deciding factor proved to be a heart-breaking loss to the Kennewick Bandits. The Jays were leading 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh and headed for their third straight win, but the Bandits loaded the bases with two out.
The next batter ripped a double to centre field to score two and steal the game 6-5.
“We were just a couple pitches from being in the playoffs,” said Combo. “I am very proud of our guys this weekend. It was a huge turn around for us as far as the way we’ve been playing.”
Josh Blank went 2 for 2 with a stolen base and Jake Lucchini and Scott Robertson both hit 2 for 4.
The Jays were without Calvin who was picked up by the senior men’s Langley Blaze team for a tour of southern California, and the Wally Kincaid Memorial tournament. Calvin leads the Jays in hitting with a .418 average and five homers, is 1-3 with a 2.43 ERA on the mound, and has 28 strikeouts.
“We missed his arm pitching,” said Combo. “Towards the end we were starting to run out of arms, as far as fresh arms go, so that really hurt us. . . but our team really stepped up and hit well despite Dallas being out of the lineup.”
In their first match the Jays shutout the Billings Royals 3-0 on the strength of Scotty Davidson’s complete game, four-hit gem. Davidson struck out nine and gave up no walks, as the Jays scored all three of their runs in the second inning.
The Jays then faced Grand Legacy and held a tenuous 5-4 lead in the sixth when the Legacy pushed a run over to tie the game at five.
However, the Jays came right back, scoring one in the bottom half of the inning to regain the lead.
Jordan Roblin came on in relief for Scott Robertson and ended the Legacy’s hopes by striking out one and setting them down in order for the save.
Robertson nabbed the win, going six strong innings while giving up five runs on seven hits, three walks and two strikeouts. Davidson was 2 for 4 at the plate with one stolen base.
After the loss to Kennewick, Trail bounced right back in the following match on Thursday, erupting for four runs in the second and fifth innings to cruise to a 10-2 victory over the Whitefish Glacier Twins.
Nursing a broken finger, Tyrus Jocko threw five innings of one-hit ball, striking out six while walking just two batters. Robertson led the way at the plate, going 3 for 3 with two RBIs, while Davidson went 2 for 3 with a pair of doubles, a stolen base and a run batted in.
Despite not making the playoffs, the Jays played one more match against their North Idaho nemesis, the Coeur d’Alene Lumbermen on Friday.
In an exciting game, the Lumbermen jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning and the Jays replied in the second. The loggers took the lead in the fourth, but the birds weren’t finished.
In the top of seven, Trail rallied and tied the game to send it into extra innings. However, in the bottom of the ninth with two out, an error and a bases-loaded walk would help CdA push the winning run over for a 3-2 victory.
Tanner Johnson pitched eight strong innings for the Jays, giving up five hits and two runs, while walking two batters.
Tanner Rotschy went 2 for 4 at the plate with an RBI.
The Jays next home game goes Saturday with a doubleheader against Cranbrook Bandits at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.