U19 Express’ bid to repeat cut short at nationals

Brendan Hagerman's solo home run wasn't enough to get the Express into the medal round at the U19 Canadian Fast Pitch Championship. File photo.

Adam Prudhomme

As the old cliche goes, the only thing harder than winning a championship is defending it.

That proved to be true for the Napanee AFW Construction Express, who saw their quest for back-to-back national titles cut short with an early playoff round exit at the U19 Canadian Fast Pitch Championship, held in Owen Sound.

After going 5-3 in the preliminary round, the Express entered Saturday’s playoff round as the sixth seed, with no second life safety net. 

Taking on the Newfoundland Selects in a must-win, the Express fell short in an 11-3, five inning loss.

Napanee had jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Tucker Firth drove in James Martell with a grounder to second.

The Selects answered with two in the top of the second, but the Express’ Brendan Hagerman responded with a solo home run over the centrefield wall. 

That was as close as the Express would get however, as a couple of key errors help to fuel a three-run top of the third for the Selects. They tacked on five more in the fourth to put the game out of reach. Firth cranked a home run to centre to cut the deficit to 10-3, but the Express ran out of steam from there. Napanee’s two home runs stood as their only two hits in the game.

Firth finished the tournament with a team high eight RBI to go with three home runs and a .526 batting average. Hagerman and Robbie Barker both drove in six, Brock Fencott five.

Connor Brooks was 2-1 from the mound with a 3.63 ERA, striking out 35 in 17.1 innings. Andrew Vanboekel was 2-2 with a 3.17 ERA, striking out 22 in 17.2 innings. 

The Belmore Sting finished as bronze medalists while Ontario’s Shallow Lake defeated Saskatchewan’s Delisle Pride in the gold medal game.

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