It wasn’t the beginning to the tournament that the East Nepean Eagles were hoping for.
The Eagles opened up the Senior League (15-16 year-olds) World Series in Easley, South Carolina on the short end of an 11-1 score against Haarlem, Netherlands.
The game was called after five innings due to the tournament’s mercy rule.
With the loss, the Eagles have no margin for error in the double elimination tournament, as teams are eliminated after their second loss. The Eagles face Matamoros, Mexico Tuesday morning. Matamoros won the Latin American regional tournament to qualify for the World Series.
“It was a tough game,” said Eagles coach Matt Beelen. “There were a lot of nerves for the boys.”
Starting pitcher Charlie McDougall walked the first two batters and hit the third to load the bases before he locked in and got into a groove. He gave up a sacrifice fly and a triple before getting out of the jam with a pair of strike outs.
Haarlem, the European/African champions, scored three runs on just one hit. They added two more runs on a pair of singles and a walk. Catcher Justin Morris threw out a base runner at second who was trying to steal, and McDougall got the next batter to hit a can-of-corn fly ball to right. But by this point, the Eagles were in a 5-0 hole in the second inning.
“Once we settled into the game we were fine,” said Beelen. “We need to adjust to the higher velocity pitching, and we need our pitchers to settle in and get rid of the nerves.”
After the second inning, McDougall was strong in the third and fourth innings, retiring the side in order both innings.
The Canadian champion Eagles did not get a base runner until shortstop Reid Maika got a two-out base hit in the fourth inning. Maika advanced to third on a single by first baseman Nolan Beelen but was thrown out at home to end the inning.
Haarlem’s bats came to life again in the fifth, as they scored six times off McDougall and reliever David Kelly.
Trailing 11-0 in the bottom of the fifth, the Eagles got on the board. Owen McBane reached on an error. With Cam White running for McBane, Thomas White and Jeff Luo followed with singles to drive in the Eagles’ run. Thomas White was thrown out at home trying to score on an Evan Campbell ground ball, and Jacob Elyea flew out to centre field to end the inning.
With the Eagles trailing by 10 runs after five innings, the game was called by mercy rule.
While it was not the result he was hoping for, Eagles coach Matt Beelen praised the effort and resilience of his team.
“Charlie (McDougall) had a tough start to the game but then settled down and pitched great,” he said. “There was a great catch by Evan Campbell in centre field, and we got hits by Reid Maika, Nolan Beelen, Thomas White and Jeff Luo.”
The Eagles will face the 1-1 Matamoros team from Mexico Tuesday morning. The loser will be eliminated from the tournament, with the winner advancing to meet Haarlem. The Netherlands team lost 16-14 to the Caribbean champions from Willemstad, Curacao Monday.