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Merchants fail to repeat as Manitoba champs

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The Sunset Merchants finished out of playoff contention at the Intermediate ‘A’ fastball championship last weekend in Steinbach, Man., winding up with a 2-2 record.

The Merchants, representing the Rainy River District Fastball League, won the provincial crown last season after finishing the tournament with a perfect 8-0 record.

The district squad opened action in the 15-team tournament with a 10-0 loss to the Dryden Longhorns, in a game that ended after just five innings due to the “mercy” rule.

John Desaulniers took the loss on the mound for the Merchants.

The Merchants also saw three key players—Glen Kellar, Dennis Mounk and George Oltsher—go down with injuries in the game.

Those injuries, along with the one to all-star shortstop Guy Arpin, already gone for the season, left the Merchants with an even more depleted lineup for the rest of the tournament.

Still, Murray Armstrong got the Merchants into the win column in their next game—a 7-5 victory over the St. Jean Chiefs—before they dropped a 3-0 shutout to the Toledo (Winnipeg) Mudhens.

Gus Copenace was tagged with the loss in that one.

The Merchants closed out with a 7-5 win over Winkler but failed to make the playoff round with their 2-2 record.

Gladstone won the tournament with a 6-3 victory in the final over Minto, and are now headed for the Western Canadian championship in Calgary from Aug. 30 to Sept. 1.

The Merchants’ next tournament action is Aug. 17 in Vasser.

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