Braves advance to final

Staff

A late-game rally had the Couchiching Raiders’ boisterous fans in a rapturous uproar.
Half-an-inning later, after a bloop and a blast, the only noise to be heard emanated from the visitors’ dugout.
The top-ranked Fort Frances Braves advanced to the Rainy River District Fastball League championship series after eliminating the second-seeded Raiders 8-3 on Tuesday night in the East Division final at the Rodrick and Telford Bruyere Ball Field.
Trailing 4-0, Couchiching erupted for three runs in the top of the sixth thanks to Ryan MacDonald’s two-run bomb over the fence in right and then Chris Morrisseau’s RBI double to score Roger Morrison, who had tripled.
But the Braves, who were ousted by the Raiders last season, used both a light touch and a heavy hit to put the game out of reach in the bottom half.
With one out and Jaden Gustafson at second, pinch-hitter Jacob Jack got enough of his bat on the ball to lift it just out of the reach of Morrisseau at second base to bring home Gustafson for a 5-3 lead.
Dakota Andy then doubled to left and Travis Tom walked with two out to load the bases for Mike Parisien.
The power-hitting left-fielder clobbered a pitch from Sheldon Kelly Sr. to left that cleared the bases.
Tom, who fanned eight, including striking out the side in the first, closed out his six-hit complete game by giving up a two-out triple to Andrew Easton in the seventh.
But he got Chad Smith to ground out to Tim Archie at first to end the game.
Fort Frances technically was the home team despite giving up the right to play on its home turf at VanJura so the game could start later and be played under the lights at Couchiching.
The Braves now have to wait to see who their opponent will be in the best-of-three league final.
Jeff Morrison tossed a gem for the top-ranked Dawson Tigers, who staved off elimination Tuesday night by downing the second-seeded Barwick Blue Knights 6-1 in the first game of the West Division final at Oltsher Field.
Morrison’s only mistake was a home run by Kevin Gemmell.
But the burly right-hander got offensive support from his team in the form of homers from Matt Godin and Mitch Seguin.
Barwick had beaten Dawson last week to put itself in the driver’s seat.
Now it will come down to a one-game showdown tonight at 6:30 p.m. in Pinewood to decide the West rep in the league final.