Braves cruise past Raiders in playoff opener


If their first game of the post-season is any indication, the Fort Frances Braves are going to pose a big problem for every team they face.
The two-time defending champion Braves piled up the runs early and never looked back as they pounded the fourth-seeded Raiders 12-0 in their Rainy River District Fastball League East Division playoff opener last Thursday night at Couchiching.
After starting pitcher Jaden Gustafson held the Raiders in check in the first inning, the top-ranked Braves responded in kind in their half.
Cole Tymkin and Gustafson led off the frame with a walk and a single and were cashed in by a towering shot over the left-field fence by Travis Tom off Raiders’ starter Sheldon Kelly Jr. to put the Braves ahead 3-0.
Kelly Jr. surrendered another pair of singles later in the inning but was able to escape without any further damage done.
Gustafson tossed another shutout inning in the second, which led to Fort Frances salting the game away in the bottom half.
Tymkin slapped a two-run single off of Kelly Jr. before Tom clubbed an RBI double to put the Braves firmly up by six.
Chris Bourgeois cashed in two more runs with a double of his own followed by Dakota Andy slapping a crafty bunt single later in the frame to increase the lead to 9-0.
Kelly Jr. was replaced on the mound by Mike Jourdain following the frame.
The Raiders’ best chance to trim the deficit came in the fourth when Chris Morrisseau was hit by a pitch from Gustafson and Faron Morrisseau got aboard on a Fielder’s choice.
But Gustafson buckled down with a pair of strikeouts and induced a flyout to keep the Raiders off the board.
In the fifth, Bourgeois drew a one-out walk off Jourdain before Logan Jackson reached safely on an infield single followed by Marcus Hunter getting walked to load the bases.
Andy then unloaded on a pitch with a double to deep centre to clear the bases and put the game out of reach at 12-0.
Tom pitched two scoreless frames before Tymkin pitched a shutout seventh inning to preserve the Braves’ win.
Gustafson pitched four shutout innings, giving up just two walks and a hit along with recording eight strikeouts to garner the win.
Kelly Jr. allowed nine runs over two innings to suffer the defeat for the Raiders, who now fall to the Loser’s Side of the bracket.
In the other East Division Winner’s Side game last Thursday, Rob McGinnis pitched a gem to pace the third-seeded Windey’s Warriors to a 6-1 upset win over the second-ranked Sight & Sound Wolves at VanJura.
Nick Hunter homered for the Warriors while Murray Armstrong was tagged with the loss for the Wolves, who now fall to the Loser’s Side of the bracket.
Over in the West Division, meanwhile, the top-ranked Blue Knights edged the fifth-seeded Stratton Eagles 5-4 in Barwick.
JJ Landry nabbed the win over Guy Arpin.
The game between the second-ranked Dawson Tigers and third-seeded Sabaskong Lakers was postponed to Monday night as members of the Lakers were competing in a tournament in Manitoba.
Monday’s game then saw the Lakers eke out a 6-5 upset win over the Tigers.
James Yerxa garnered the pitching win over Carl BigGeorge.
Last night’s Loser’s Side games in the East saw the Raiders hosting the sixth-seeded Manitou Thunderbirds while the Wolves hosted the fifth-seeded Northwest Bay Chieftains.
Over in the West, the Eagles welcomed the sixth-seeded Sabaskong Goldeneyes to Stratton while the Tigers hosted the fourth-seeded Rainy River Royals.
All scores were unavailable as of press time.
Tomorrow night’s Winner’s Side game in the East will see the Braves hosting the Warriors at VanJura while over in the West the Blue Knights will welcome the Lakers to Barwick.