Like leaving the proverbial nest, a hatchling of young Jays require a little time to get their wings under them before they can fly.
Despite their youth, a decidedly persistent group of Jays put in a gutsy performance at the Canadian Days American Legion baseball tournament on the weekend, but in the end they fell, losing three out of four games.
The Jays just as well could have been 3 and 1 rather than 1 and 3 as they dropped two of three close losses in the final innings before bouncing back against Calgary in their last game Sunday.
The Jays led 6-2 in the fifth inning against the Whitefish Glacier Twins before late inning mistakes and unlucky bounces let the Twins back in the game. The Whitefish, Mont. team scored three runs in the fifth inning to make it 6-5 and two more in the sixth to swipe a 7-6 victory.
“They (the Jays) had a few defensive miscues and a base-running mistake, little things like that,” said associate coach Scott Calvin. “We definitely gave them that game, they didn’t beat us.”
Tanner Rotschy went 2 for 4 at the plate and drove in two runs while Jordan Roblin also picked up two hits. Jarret Conway got the start, pitching five innings while giving up five runs, three earned, on four hits and striking out one. Tyrus Jocko suffered the loss as he came on and gave up two runs on four hits.
In the Jays next match against host Kalispell Lakers, Trail led 2-1 in the bottom of sixth when a Lakers bases-loaded, bloop single scored two to make it 3-2.
Dallas Calvin knocked in both Jays runs, one in the third and one in the fifth, and also pitched three scoreless innings, striking out three.
The Jays had a chance to win it when they loaded the bases late in the game. Josh Blank came up and smashed a line drive but the first baseman snagged it and touched the base for the double play, ending the birds’ threat.
“We pitched really well in that game, and if not for a couple of double plays that got them out of some innings, it may have been a little bit different story,” said Calvin.
It was the first action for the Jays this season, and despite a number of rookies and no games under their belt, they performed well.
Opposing teams have played up to 16 games, and as the weekend wore on, so did the Jays’ arms.
Injuries to pitchers Chris Whyte and Scott Davidson left the Jays shorthanded in the rotation and Sherwood Park took advantage of it, cruising to a 12-1 victory.
But the Jays rebounded in the next game, plating 10 runs in the first inning to beat Calgary 13-8.
Josh Blank led the charge with five RBI’s on a double and a triple, and Dallas Calvin went 3 for 4 with two knocked in and a stolen base.
Sean Barta picked up the win as the right-hander threw four strong innings giving up seven hits and four runs, while walking two and striking out one. Barta also contributed to his winning cause, going 2 for 3, with a stolen base and one RBI.
“Overall there was definitely some highlights, there was some good pitching, we made some good plays, a couple double plays, we had some nice hits so there is definitely some positives,” said Calvin.
The Jays are scheduled to play in Cranbrook on Saturday before returning home to open at Butler with a pair of double headers on Sunday at 5 and 7 p.m. and Monday, 3 and 5 p.m.