St. Thomas finally disposes of nemesis Alvinston in semifinals to advance
to the South Middlesex Men's Fastball League final against Appin
Tuesday, October 1, 2019
By Rob J. Ross
ST. THOMAS - It is somewhat of a cleansing of past memories that haunted the St. Thomas Storm.
For the first time in seven years, the Storm eliminated the Alvinston Aces in the playoffs, clinching their semifinal series in the fifth and deciding game, with a 13-6 win at Alvinston, on Friday.
St. Thomas now takes on the Appin A's, in the best of five game South Middlesex Men's Fastball League final, starting tonight, in Fingal.
"We had a good series with Alvinston. It's nice to beat them for the first time I think since 2012, to beat them out of a series," St. Thomas manager Tom Edie said. "The boys really wanted it. There was more emotion on the bench than I've seen in a long time.
"For a lot of the guys it was probably one of the most satisfying wins in a long time. Alvinston is the measuring stick these days."
Long time Storm players led the way in the decisive game.
"One of our veterans, Chris Wismer, had a hustle play and got to second on what normally would have been a single," Edie recapped. "Then Mark Coleman hit a home run and that set the tone. In the second inning we had a guy on base with nobody out and Aaron Gould hit a home run too."
Edie wanted to give bunt sign, but gave Gould one swing and that decision paid off.
"That really changed the look of things," said Edie. "From there, we went up 12-0."
Brady Stafford also sent the ball over the fence for the Storm.
The Aces, the defending champions who finished first this season, scored six runs in the bottom of fifth inning, ending the night for St. Thomas starter Dan Beecroft.
"Beecroft left it all on the field, but I probably waited one or two batters late to pull him," said Edie.
The Storm got a run in the sixth and held on to mercy the Aces.
Alvinston pitcher Taylor DeGraw pitcher only lasted to the fourth inning, but was a force against the Storm in all five games.
"Degraw was keeping us off balance and keeping us guessing," Edie said. "We scored a lot of runs off him in the series, but there were a lot of guys shaking their heads coming back (to the bench). He had a little bit of a different approach game to game."
Three factors came in to play for the Storm during game five, after dropping game four, 5-1, in Fingal three nights earlier.
"A little more patience at the plate, executing and the will to win," said Edie and the Storm skip hopes his team brings the same to the final.
Appin swept the Highgate Rock in their semifinal, capped with a walk single from Kyle Mitchell.
"Over the last couple years, they've (A's) become one of the better teams in the league," Edie said. "They don't make many mistakes defensively and they have a good hitting team."
Capturing their first league title since winning it all, in their first season in the South Middlesex League, comes down to three fastball standards for the Storm.
"The tried and true method is good pitching, timely hitting and solid defence," said Edie.
Beecroft will again be the main man on the rubber for St. Thomas, while Appin is led by veteran ace Greg Moore.
"Dan has been unbelievable for us at 47 years old. He's spotting the ball well and got enough pop on it," said Edie.
Appin finished second in the standings at 15-4, two games up on fourth place St. Thomas, at 14-6, with Highgate sandwiched in between.
The A's have had the Storm's number recently, including eliminating them in the semifinals a year ago and sweeping a twin bill on August 6th of this season, in Fingal.
"They came into our park and mercied us in about 45 minutes," said Edie, something he knows his players still remember. "I hope we can erase some memories with a game one win."
More cleansing on the way for the Storm?
Games two and three are in Appin, Friday, October 4th and Monday, October 7th. Game four, if necessary, at Fingal, on Tuesday, October 8th. Game five, if necessary, is at Appin, Thursday, October 10th. First pitch for all games is 8 p.m.