Petawawa evens baseball playoff series with Pembroke behind shutout pitching of Nathan Clouthier

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In game one of the Ottawa Valley Baseball playoffs, Josh Brazeau shut down the opposition as the Pembroke Athletics drew first blood in their semifinal series with Petawawa. In game two, Nathan Clouthier returned the favor and now Petawawa and the Pembroke Athletics will play a decisive third game with a trip to the league championship series on the line.

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Clouthier was outstanding, tossing a complete game, allowing only six hits and striking out nine batters as he shutout the A’s in a 3-0 Petawawa win. Clouthier walked no one and hit one batter, using a good mix of pitches to do what Brazeau had done to his teammates a game earlier, keeping them off balance.

“I was able to hit my spots and the guys made some big plays on defense. I was trying to let them hit the ball and keep the ball in play,” said Clouthier after the game.

The turning point in the game came early. In the bottom of the first inning, the A’s thought they had scored the first run of the game, but Josh Coleman was gunned down at home plate on a strong throw by right fielder Riley Poirier as Coleman tried to score on a single. Coleman argued that he slid around the tag of Petawawa catcher, Connor Godin, but the umpire called him out, keeping the game scoreless.

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Coleman led off the inning with a double and rounded third base on a single by Kurtis Godin. The ball made it to home plate but was slightly up the line. Coleman slid head first as Connor Godin lunged to make the tag.

“That was a huge play. It gave us some momentum for the rest of the game,” said Clouthier.

For three innings, Pembroke starter Matt Wagner matched Clouthier, mowing down the Petawawa batters. Despite some wildness, he hit four batters in the game, Wagner was effective, throwing six and two third innings, giving up only five hits and striking out nine batters. Tommy Serran mopped up for Wagner, but by that point in the seventh inning, Petawawa had the game in hand.

The game’s first run came in the fourth inning when Brandon Firlotte drilled a Wagner pitch over the head of A’s center fielder Andrew Dawe for a triple. The ball carried more than 300 feet to the deepest part of Riverside Park, setting up Adam Driscoll to wrap a single into right field, giving Petawawa a 1-0 lead.

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In the fifth inning, Petawawa added another run when Stevie Gilchrist reached on an infield single, moved to second base on a wild pitch, moved to third on a groundout and then scored on another wild pitch by Wagner.

An unearned run in the sixth inning gave Petawawa more breathing room. Firlotte struck out but reached first base on a passed ball. When catcher Jimmy McMillan tried to throw to first for the out, the ball sailed into right field, allowing Firlotte to trot to second base. He then scored on Driscoll’s second RBI single of the game.

The two teams entered their playoff series with identical records, both finishing the regular season at 8 and 4, trailing the first place Bamford Braves. They will meet in the deciding game of their series on Monday at 7 pm with the winner advancing to play the Braves for the league championship. Bamford finished off the Chapeau Expos by sweeping their best of three semifinal.

The championship series will also be a best of three and will open on Friday, September 16 at Riverside Park.

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