Cardinals 13 Athletics 8
The biggest question heading into the Western Canadian peewee AAA baseball championships Sunday at Great Chief Park, was: Could anyone knock off the B.C. teams?
The Saskatoon Cardinals and Sherwood Park Athletics took care of that in the semifinals.
The Cardinals whipped the B.C. champion Vancouver Yankees 11-1 in five innings while the A’s dumped the Cloverdale Spurs 4-2.
The Cardinals went on to down the A’s 13-8 in the gold medal game.
In the end, the Cardinals had too much depth at the plate for the Athletics, who went through four pitchers.
“It was a little tense, but we have good depth and that paid off,” said Cardinals head coach Mike Resch. “The big thing was we got our bats rolling and the guys played with confidence.”
The Cardinals trailed 4-0 early, but scored five runs in both the bottom of the third and fourth innings to take a 10-4 lead. After Sherwood Park came back with four runs in the fifth — three on Bret Kirkpatrick’s home run — the Cards scored three more times in the bottom of the fifth, then rode the pitching of Thomas Gore the rest of the way.
Gore, who was the third Saskatoon pitcher, came in in the fifth.
Devlin Gavigan-Hosaluk led the Cardinals with a pair of home runs — a three-run shot in the third and a two-run blast in the fifth. Brayden Resch added a two-run home run in the fourth while Kolten Olynek had a single and two triples.
Kirkpatrick had three singles to go with his home run while Owen Bessette had two doubles and Jake Lanferman two singles for the A’s.
The Cardinals, who lost 5-2 to Cloverdale in pool play, opened the tournament with a 15-2 win over the Red Deer Dairy Queen Braves, a game Resch said was important to their weekend.
“We always go into that first game with the idea of winning, You don’t want to get into a hole right off the bat.”
The loss to Cloverdale also was important, according to Resch.
“We got a chance to see a quality B.C. team and to see the speed of their pitching. So when we played Vancouver the kids had seen it and weren’t intimidated.”
The Cardinals have only four players back from last year’s Saskatchewan championship team that played at the Canadian finals, but all but two of their players are second-year peewees.
“We were fortunate to have the four kids back, who played AAA last year,” said Resch.
Meanwhile, the Braves finished sixth in the tournament, losing 14-8 to the North Winnipeg Pirates in the placement game Saturday.
Earlier Saturday the Braves dropped a 13-8 decision to Cloverdale and beat Brandon 9-8 in the completion of a game called because of lightning with the teams tied at 8-8 in the top of the seventh Friday.
The Braves finished with a 1-3 record, but head coach Cam Moon was anything but unhappy with the performance.
“I was very proud of these kids,” he said. “They played their hearts out all weekend and we gave Cloverdale everything they could ask for before they came back on us.”
The Braves led 8-2 at one point with Cloverdale scoring six times in the top of the seventh to pull out the victory.
The Braves put together a solid season, finishing second in the province to Sherwood Park, who needed to beat the Red Deer crew twice in the provincial final.
“We couldn’t have asked for much more this season,” said Moon. “We finished second in the province and earned our way into this championship. We didn’t just get in because we were the host team.
“The kids can feel good about themselves and use this experience in the future.”