Ethan Whitelaw tries to track down the ball in the sun. (Photo by Aniela Hankins)

Brewers go down swinging in baseball semifinal playoff

Chemainus junior men’s squad falls just short of a second straight trip to the finals

Even when the Chemainus Brewers are on the ropes, they make things interesting.

Such was the case again when the Brewers tangled with the Carnarvon Astros in the semifinals of the South Island Baseball League. It was a rematch of last year’s championship series that the Astros won.

The opening game of the best-of-three was a rough one for the Brewers. They were blanked 7-0.

Jorge Reyes was on the mound and the Astros got to him for two runs in the first inning, three in the second and two in the third.

“We couldn’t rally back anything as their pitcher was good on the mound for them,” noted Brewers’ player-coach Bryan Wheeler.

The second game of the series was a thriller, with the Brewers almost completing a miraculous comeback.

The pitching assignment fell on Alejandro Ortega in the do-or-die game. The Brewers went ahead 1-0 in the top of the first inning, but the Astros came back to take a 3-1 lead before the Brewers cut the margin to one.

The Astros pulled into a huge 7-2 advantage in the bottom of the fifth, but the Brewers weren’t about to throw in the towel at that point. In the top of the seventh, they came together and were aided by the Astros’ pitcher walking in a couple of runners with the bases loaded to go up 8-7.

The Astros tied it 8-8 and there was one out in the bottom of the seventh inning with a runner on second base. Reyes made a great play at shortstop on a grounder to take the advance runner, giving the Brewers two outs with a man on first.

They needed only one more out to keep the game going into extra innings, but it wasn’t to be. A couple of singles loaded the bases with two outs and the Astros’ pitcher, a strong hitter, came up to the plate and delivered the walk-off single to right centrefield to decide the game.

“It was a great season for us, we feel we did well for our team,” Wheeler indicated. “We wanted to go back to the finals and try and get that championship to prove we belong in that league, but we fell short. We will have a good off-season and hoping to pick up a couple of more local players to put on our roster as it’s up in the air if we are going to get the Cuban ball players back on our team for next year.”

The Brewers finished third among the 10 teams during the regular season with a 10-4-4 record. Three of those ties came from not being able to play and resulting in a tie, and the one actual tie game was against the Rockies.

The playoffs started with a best-of-three quarterfinal against the Layritz Reds. The Brewers won the first game 9-1 behind the pitching of Ortega and claimed the second game 5-4 with a walkoff single by Randy Camaraza to advance into the semifinals.

Adriel Quesada was the winning pitcher in that game.

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