The provincial peewee AAA baseball championships didn’t finish the way the Red Deer Dairy Queen Braves would have liked, but head coach Kelly Jones was still proud of his troops.
“It would have been nice to have won and went to the Western Canadians, but unfortunately it wasn’t in the cards,” he said, after the Braves were eliminated from the playoffs Saturday. “But I’m proud of the kids and the job they did for us.”
The Braves put themselves in playoff contention with a 9-7 win over the Calgary Cubs Saturday morning, but were eliminated with a 14-6 loss to the St. Albert Cardinals in the evening.
The Braves can look back at a 7-6 loss to the Edmonton Cardinals Friday as a game they needed to win.
“A slow start to that game cost us,” said Jones. “We win that game and it’s a different story.”
As it turned out the Braves finished at 1-2 with Calgary sitting 0-3, Edmonton 2-1 and St. Albert 3-0. The top two teams from each pool advanced to the semifinals.
“Overall the kids worked hard, but our bats fell asleep this weekend,” added Jones. “We were never able to string together rallies. We’d scored one or two runs and then come up short. That’s not good, especially against a team like St. Albert. They came out hitting the ball and once we settled down we were fine, but it was too late.
“Plus they played well defensively and made a couple of big outs when it could have made a difference. But they made them and put us back on defence.”
Adam Junck started on the mound against St. Albert, allowing seven runs over four innings on 10 hits. Zach Baker came on and gave up six runs over two innings with Ty Moline going the final inning.
Rylan Eberle had a pair of RBIs for the Braves while Baker and Moline had two hits each.
Cooper Jones started against Calgary and went 5 2/3 innings and Brett Porter going the final 1 1/3 innings.
Moline had a pair of singles and a double while Porter added three hits and Baker and Eberle two each.
Overall Jones felt the pitching was fine.
“Overall we came together as a team this season and this weekend I thought we let our pitchers down a bit on defence and our hitting wasn’t there.”
The Sherwood Park A’s won the title with a 9-6 win over St. Albert in the final. The A’s beat Edmonton 12-5 in the semifinal while St. Albert came from behind to down Fort McMurray 10-8.
The A’s were 3-0 in their pool while Fort McMurray, East Central and Spruce Grove were all 1-2.
Spruce Grove will host the Western Canadian finals with both Sherwood Park and St. Albert also playing.
There’s a good chance several members of the Braves will be added to teams for the Westerns.
Two members of the Braves — Cooper Jones and Hunter Leslie — will compete for Team, Canada at the Cal Ripken World Series, beginning this weekend in Maryland.