Bulldogs clench teeth at fastball tourney

Playing against some of the top fastball teams from Minnesota, the Emo Bulldogs finished 2-3 at a 10-team qualifier in Mankato, Mn. last weekend.
It was the first of two qualifiers, with the top team after 10 games earning a berth to the North American Fastball Association championships in Albuquerque, N.M.
The second qualifier is slated June 5-6 in Fargo, N.D.
Emo actually opened play Saturday morning with a 4-1 win over Rod’s Bar (Mankato). But because the first game did not count towards the final standings, the Bulldogs ended up at 2-3.
DC Financial (Minneapolis), DMS Black Knights (Fargo), and Happy Chef (Mankato) finished with 4-1 records to lead the pack. Kegel (Fargo), Cunningham’s (Minneapolis), and Geneva, Mn. are next at 3-2.
Tied with Emo at 2-3 is Junkers (Mankato), followed by Villard, Mn. and Rod’s Bar at 0-5.
In Emo’s first game, Rod’s Bar pushed one across in the first inning but the Bulldogs stormed back with a pair of runs in the third to grab a 2-1 lead.
Dennis Mounk reached first to lead off the inning and was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jake Allen. Pitcher Warren Voth then helped his own cause with an RBI double, and later scored on a passed ball.
Tim Vaillant of Thunder Bay made it 3-1 on a solo shot in the fourth. Then the Bulldogs added an insurance marker in the seventh when Grant Swire scored on a Brad Ducharme’s fielder’s choice.
Emo made it two straight later Saturday with a tight 3-2 victory over the DMS Black Knights. The key blow came in the top of the first when Brent Tookenay doubled home Dan Oleksuk and Wayne Strachan.
Tookenay later cracked a solo homer in the sixth for the eventual game-winning run.
Brooks Swanson went seven strong innings on the mound for the Bulldogs, striking out eight along the way.
After Emo ran into a snag in their next game, falling 3-0 to Cunningham’s late Saturday, they got right back into the win column Sunday morning with a convincing 7-1 win over Rod’s Bar.
Vaillant had a pair of round-trippers, including a three-run blast, to pace Emo in that game while Boomer Calvert also homered.
Voth struck out 12 Mankato batters to earn the win.
But Emo lost their final two games of the tournament–6-4 to Kegel (Fargo) and then 9-1 by DC Financial.
Kegel, led by pitcher John Desaulnier of Pinewood, led 4-0 in the fourth before the Bulldogs battled back with four runs in the bottom of the inning–the big blow being a three-run dinger by Tookenay.
But Fargo won the game with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth, giving Desaulnier his second win against no losses.
Still, despite the two losses to finish the tournament, Emo–classed as an “AA” team–was pleased with their effort against the mixed bag of “AA” and “AAA” teams.
“Our pitching was strong and all of our young guys played well in addition to our guys from Thunder Bay,” Bulldog coach Jim Fowler said, adding they plan to pick up one more pitcher for the qualifier in Fargo next month.
“Our pitchers had a bit of a conditioning problem for the first time out,” he noted.
But Fowler also was impressed with Emo’s regular players, especially Tookenay, a shortstop who played flawless defence all weekend and provided some punch at the plate.