It’s a moment that the Abbotsford Angels will remember for the rest of their lives.
The local bantam AAA baseball team had battled its way to the championship game at the Western Canadian championship tournament in Spruce Grove, Alta. and were locked in a 1-1 tie with Sherwood Park, a team from the host province.
The inning? Bottom of the seventh (the last regulation inning at this level).
The bases? Loaded.
Up to the plate stepped Jayden Marsh, who had started the game on the mound for the Angels and pitched four strong innings. He was re-entering the lineup as a pinch-hitter.
Marsh took the first pitch, which looked a little high but was called a strike.
The second pitch was right down the middle, and Marsh didn’t leave the bat on his shoulder this time. He ripped a line drive between the third baseman and the shortstop to drive in Robert Bradley with the game-winning run.
His teammates came sprinting out of the dugout, helmets flying, to mob Marsh at first base. Shortly thereafter, head coach Scott Pankratz found himself doused with a Gatorade jug full of water.
“I touched first base and the dog-pile was already on top of me,” Marsh told The News. “It was awesome. It was one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had.”
The Angels, the silver medalists at provincials earlier this month, began the six-team Western tourney in inauspicious fashion, dropping their opener to a team from Winnipeg in extra innings. That meant they had to run the table in their remaining four round-robin games in order to qualify for the final.
They did just that, out-scoring their opponents 46-6 in those four victories, capped by a complete-game no-hitter from pitcher Michael Stovman in their round-robin finale vs. host Spruce Grove.
In the final, the Angels got terrific pitching from Marsh and reliever Perrin Finley, and a strong performance from their battery-mate, catcher Aiden McDonald.
Pankratz said that winning on a walk-off hit makes the championship even more memorable.
“We really rolled through the tournament after the first game,” he said. “We set goals at the beginning of the season, and to see them right through to the end is great.”