Red Deer Razorbacks first baseman Evan Emerson picks the ball to beat a Rocky Mountain House Red Dogs batter during Game 3 of the Parkland Baseball League semifinal. Red Deer won 5-2 to advance to the final against the Acme Pirates.

Razorbacks to face Pirates in final

The Red Deer Razorbacks are heading back to the Parkland Baseball League final for the first time since 2011.

Razorbacks 5, Red Dogs 2

The Red Deer Razorbacks are heading back to the Parkland Baseball League final for the first time since 2011.

The Razorbacks beat the Rocky Mountain House Red Dogs 5-2 in Game 3 of the league semifinal on Friday to win the series 2-1.

They will now play the first place Acme Pirates who beat the Innisfail Indians in the other semifinal.

The Razorbacks will be playing with no pressure, they’re just happy to be this far in the playoffs.

“Our goal at the start of the year was just to make the playoffs,” said head coach and centre fielder Darcy Warawa.

“We have a group of guys where half of them have played together before and the other half are brand new this year, so when that takes place, you’re not sure how it’s going to roll out … Things for us just kept building and building and building for us all season long, so now for the opportunity to go to the final is basically a bonus.”

The Razorbacks were in rebuild mode this season. With Warawa and Colin Stefanik taking over the team, their goal was just to develop a strong foundation of players and a consistent roster to pull from.

They welcomed any and all willing players at least the opportunity for a try out at the AA level.

This mentality yielded several new mainstays, including newly minted staff ace Travis Bachynski who joined the team mid-way through the season.

The 22-year-old left-hander just moved to Red Deer with his parents from Hamilton, Ont., in June and found a home with the Razorbacks after being turned away from the Riggers who had a full roster.

He was on the mound for both wins in the semifinals, including throwing all seven innings on Friday night.

“I love the pressure. The way I dealt in this game, it was probably the best game of my career,” said the six-foot-two southpaw.

Bachynski is not completely new to Alberta, he did pitch for the Prairie Baseball Academy.

Warawa says he formed a fast connection with his catcher Chad Huseby.

“Tonight Trav came out and he pitched and he did a great job,” said Warawa. “Cody Huseby did a great job behind the plate, he calls a phenomenal game, the kids a wall back there, he has been for years.”

Red Deer took a 4-0 lead through three innings, giving Bachynski all the cushion he needed. His one hiccup came in the fifth inning when he started to waiver and gave up one run.

The Razorbacks came back with a run of their own as Diego Colorado — another player they took a flyer on — scored from third base on a single by Evan Emerson to stretch the lead back out to four runs.

The Red Dogs did get one more in the sixth inning, but could not get any closer.

Maybe most impressive about the Razorbacks, is the way they bounced back after a dreadful Game 2 where they were beat 9-2.

They have come a long way in the last month, going from battling to stay around the .500 mark and in playoff contention, to nailing down the second seed in the playoffs to punching their ticket for the final.

“The biggest change for us has been intensity,” said Warawa. “We have a group of guys that tend to be a bit quieter and more laid back. They’re more than capable of playing the game but we missed that intensity. That’s something we’ve worked on since the half-way mark, and it’s built and built and built to the point tonight was probably the most intense we’ve been all season long.”

Game 1 goes Monday at 7 p.m. at Great Chief Park with Games 2 and 3 of the best-of-three series in Acme.

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