The 10-21 Red Deer Midget AAA Braves season may be over, but they’re still alive.
They will be hosting a play-in tournament this weekend at Great Chief Park to decide the final two spots for tier I provincials in St. Albert over the August long weekend.
The tournament will feature the bottom six teams in the 12-team NorWest Baseball League: No. 7 Edmonton Cardinals (12-18), No. 8 Fort McMurray Oil Giants (12-21), No. 9 Calgary Redbirds Black (10-20), No. 10 Red Deer, No. 11 Calgary Rockies (10-21), No. 12 Calgary Redbirds Red (2-25). The six teams will be broken down into two pools with a round-robin schedule on Saturday and a final playoff on Sunday.
The four teams who do not advance out of the play-in tournament will finish the year with a tier II provincial tournament.
The seeding could change with a few teams still with games remaining. The Braves were one of those teams, but decided to cancel Wednesday’s contest with the third place Sherwood Park Dukes (21-7) with the aim of saving their pitching staff after a busy last 10 days. The official tournament schedule will be released on Friday.
Red Deer head coach Cam Moon is confident that they can emerge with one of the available spots.
“All of the teams that are in this play-in tournament, we’ve beat all of them and they’ve all beat us,” he said. “If we show up on Saturday and pitch well and hit well and defend well, I really like our chances. If we don’t than I don’t.”
The Braves got off to a dreadful start to the season but have played strong of late, including winning five of their last 10.
They will likely be leaning on a trio of pitchers to carry them at the tournament — Dylan Borman, Ty Wagar and Michael Ozga — where the position will be all important.
Red Deer’s biggest issue may be their offence, as their bats have been inconsistent of late.
One big edge they will have is playing in their own ballpark, selected in large part due to Red Deer’s central location among the participating teams.
“We’re very familiar here with Great Chief,” said Moon. “But we still have to come to play.”