TIMMINS - The last time the Whiskey Jacks weren’t Timmins Men’s Baseball League champions, Jean Chrétien was Prime Minister of Canada, the Boston Red Sox were still suffering under the Curse of the Bambino, and no one had ever heard of Kim Kardashian.
"Ah, the good old days," might think a member of the Champoux Homes-Wacky Wings Orioles.
Jonathan Minard hit a two-run home run in the third inning while pitcher Jamie Dallaire saved his best game of the season for last, going all seven innings in a 7-3 win over the Orioles as the Whiskey Jacks claimed their incredible 14th-consecutive TMBL title on Monday night.
“I don’t think it ever gets old,” said Dallaire after the game. “We just keep battling. It’s usually a different group of guys every year; we always have our core, but have have four of five new guys every year and we find a way to do it.”
The win in Game 3 on Monday at Fred Salvador Field allowed the Whiskey Jacks to complete a sweep of the Orioles in the best-of-five finals. But that only tells part of the tale, as the Jacks needed eight innings to walk off with a win in Game 1, and came back from a 7-5 deficit late in Game 2 to take yet another last-inning victory.
“This was a hell of a series,” said Dallaire. “We had two walk-off wins, so this series could have been completely different. We could have been down 2-0 going into Game 3, and we just somehow managed to get some key hits, and a lot of nice defensive plays as well that kept us in the game.
“That whole team over there (the Orioles), they can hit, they can pitch, they can play defence. To be honest, I didn’t think we were going to have this series. It’s been like that for a few years, but we just figure out a way. We have those key top five hitters, and the bottom of the lineup came in clutch in Game 1 and Game 2. It was a great series.”
As has been their custom these playoffs, a big-hitting top of the lineup propelled the Whiskey Jacks to a lead right from the start.
After Orioles starter Trevor Niemi – who was back on the mound after starting Game 2 on Thursday – struck out Dallaire to start the game, catcher Jamie Dagenais doubled to get the ball rolling. Chris Greer stepped up next and promptly doubled home Dagenais to give the Jacks the lead. Greer would eventually come to the plate on an Orioles’ defensive miscue.
With an early 2-0 lead, Dallaire stepped up to the mound and retired the first five Orioles he faced. That gave Minard the chance to come to the plate in the top of the third with Dagenais on base and rip a bomb over the fence in right field to make the score 4-0.
Colin Beach got the Orioles’ first hit of the night to lead off the third. Mario Fillion walked and Eric Boulard grounded into a fielder’s choice which the Whiskey Jacks bungled into an error, allowing Beach to get the Orioles on the board. Marc-André Lavoie then hit a two-out double to plate Boulard and reduce the lead to 4-2.
But that’s the nearest the Orioles would come to getting back in the game. Though the Orioles put in their top pitcher in Lavoie to start the fifth, Greer rounded all three bases and touched home after a pair of errors at third. The Jacks made it 7-2 in the sixth when Lavoie issued a pair of two-out walks to Dallaire and Dagenais. Greer singled home Dallaire, while Dagenais was able to score thanks to an error in left field on the play.
Lavoie doubled to start the bottom of the sixth and eventually scored on James Daschuk’s RBI single, but Dallaire seemed to get better as the taste of a 14th-straight title got ever closer.
Dallaire finished his night having allowed just three runs on six hits and four walks over seven innings, adding six strikeouts to his totals.
“I had a bit of adrenaline going,” said Dallaire with a laugh. “Actually, when I got the field, I didn’t know I was going (to start), I thought Chris (Greer) was going to take this game as well, which I was totally fine with.”
But Greer – who pitched all eight innings to win Game 1 last Wednesday, and came on in relief to pick up the victory a day later in Game 2 – took to shortstop on Monday while they Whiskey Jacks put their faith in Dallaire.
“He said he’d come on in relief if we needed him but fortunately I was able to keep going,” said Dallaire. “We got some good defensive plays to shorten the innings which is always a bonus.”
In addition to willing his team to wins on the mound in the first two games of the series, Greer was also the one who scored the winning runs in both Game 1 and Game 2.
“He’s a gamer,” said Dallaire about Greer. “I think the big thing with Chris is he never gets mad at his teammates. The same guy can make three or four errors, and Chris will be the first guy to give him a high five in the dugout. That makes a big difference. He’s a gamer and he’s a winner.”
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