Mass Bay, Grand Canyon Among Conference Finalists

The final four teams to advance to the CANAM college DIVISION I finals are set, after the Conference Finals games were decided today.

In the Canada Conference, the Assiniboine U Rivermen proved themselves the best of the bunch among the Canadian colleges, defeating Fraser Valley U in a surprise upset match-up that actually had the B.C. team favored.

Despite putting up anemic offence against Assiniboine over the two regular season meeting, Fraser Valley held a 2-0 record, mainly on strong pitching from Dan Mott, Matt Shirley and Jon Harvill. The Rivermen, on the other hand, had decent but losing pitching performances from Mike Benson and Larry Beals, both of whom took losses in what were close regular season games.

But for the Conference finals, gone were the pitching battles of the regular season. Assiniboine U ended up on the winning side of an 11-10 scorefest that saw 5 home runs hit, among the 24 hits during the game. Despite being on the losing side, FVU’s Conor Barth (LF) was named Player of the Game for his 3-for-5 effort which saw him score twice and notch 4 RBIs as he led off the FVU batting order.

A Ryan Goodrich (SS) grand slam with 2-outs in the 5th inning was instrumental, however, in Assiniboine keeping the pressure on FVU, part of a wild inning that saw the Rivermen break a 3-3 tie to move ahead by six runs.

Assiniboine will face off in the Division Finals against Mass Bay Law College Maulers, the Boston-based New England Conference winners, who took down the Vermont Botanical Academy Foresters in a decisive 7-4 win today. Mass Bay’s Gabe Wendell had his own 2-out grand slam, also coming in the 5th inning of that game, which put the Maulers ahead 7-2. Batting title winner and RBI leader Willie Ware (3B) also contributed for Mass Bay with a 2-out RBI double in the first inning.

In the Caribbean Six Conference, Freeport U’s Rum Runners won the favored Jimmy Buffet Community College Parrots, in a close 3-1 win that saw Freeport U’s Jim Rollin get the win decision in a 5.1 inning performance that saw him send 7 batters back to the bench on strikeouts. Jimmy Buffet’s only run came on a solo shot from Justin Wright (2B), who was 2-for-3 on the day. But the Parrots couldn’t muster enough offense against the Rum Runners, which saw pitcher Rollin help his own effort, batting 2-for-2, scoring once and knocking in an RBI.

Freeport will take on the Grand Canyon College Spirits of the Southern Conference, who managed an upset over Utah State U’s Preachers.  Utah State had a 3-1 record against Grand Canyon after the regular season, and put their best pitcher on the mound, Branden Cassidy, who was 2-0 against the Spirits. But Spirits bats rocked Cassidy for 5 runs (4 earned) in 6.2 innings, while Spirits starter Matt Hall frustrated Utah’s hitters for 8.0 solid innings, only allowing 2 hits and 2 walks. Hall was named Player of the Game for his incredible outing.

Division Finals go ahead on Thursday with both the Grand Canyon v. Freeport U and the Mass Bay v. Assiniboine U games scheduled to play best-of-three series.

Grand Canyon and Freeport split their regular season series 1-1, while Assiniboine took 3 of 4 from Mass Bay during their regular season meetings.

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