Team Alberta downs Innisfail Merchants in pitching battle

INNISFAIL — There was little known about Team Alberta going into the Western Canadian Junior AAA Baseball Championships. Made up of 18 and 19 year-old players out of the Alberta Midget Baseball League, Team Alberta was the dark horse among the six teams.

Team Alberta managed just three hits off Innisfail starter Jay Kirkham, with two of them coming in the fourth inning when they scored both their runs.

The collected a pair of hits, then with one away successfully negotiated a double steal. A ground out plated one run and an error gave them their second. That was enough for St. Laurent.

“Mitch pitched a helluva game,” said Boik. “You couldn’t have asked for anything more.

Boik feels the team has plenty of pitching depth.

“We have lots of guys who pitch and some position players who give us quality on the mound as well,” he said. “We have enough arms for potentially six games.”

The Merchants also have quality on the hill, but need to find their bats.

“The pitchers on both teams did a good job, but it was a wake-up call for us to start swinging the bats,” said Merchants head coach Jay Steeves. “We knew coming in our offence would have to step up.

“We put the ball in play, but in a situation where we had a guy on third we had two shots at getting him home, but didn’t get it done. It was the top of our lineup as well and they have to step up. We had a little chat afterwards and we’ll be ready tomorrow.”

Steeves also gave credit to St. Laurent.

“He was good, filled the strike zone and had good defence behind him. They have some quality players on that team. A lot of our guys played senior ball and this is a little more intense where it’s one run at a time. The guys aren’t used to that atmosphere.

“We would have loved to win this, but it was a favourable decision and a wake-up call right off the bat.”

Jesse Scheunert singled and Mclean Cruthers doubled for the only Innisfail hits.

The Merchants play twice today against teams from Manitoba. They face the Carillon Sultans at noon and the St. Boniface Legionaires at 6:30 p.m. On Saturday they clash with the Moose Jaw Eagles at 9 a.m. and the Weyburn Beavers at 6 p.m.

Team Alberta takes on Moose Jaw at 9 a.m. today at Great Chief Park and meets Weyburn at 3:30 p.m. in Innisfail. On Saturday they play both their games at Great Chief Park, facing the Legionaires at 9 a.m. and the Sultans at 6 p.m.

The top two teams following round-robin play meet Sunday at 2 p.m. in Innisfail.

In other play Thursday Moose Jaw edged Weyburn 4-3 at Great Chief Park.

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