Dwayne Lalor had every right to be satisfied with the way his Red Deer Dairy Queen Braves played in the provincial peewee AAA baseball championship at Great Chief Park during the weekend.
After all the Braves assured themselves of a berth in the Western Canadian champions in Nanaimo in late August.
But even then he would have liked one more big game from his troops, who dropped a 15-5 decision to the Sherwood Park Athletics in the provincial final Sunday afternoon.
“We played very well to get here, but we didn’t seem to have enough energy for another full game,” said the Braves head coach.
“I was proud of the way they had to play to get to the final, but it was sad what we did in the final. Still is was a great display of baseball just to get in the final and that’s what we’ll build on.
“We just need to be better in the final game.’
The Braves put themselves in the final and in the Western Canadians with a 17-6 whipping of the Edmonton Cardinals in the game prior to the final.
The Braves started quickly in the final and held an early lead, but their bats went cold and they seemed to lose some of their mental concentration.
It was their second game in a row under sunny, hot conditions while the Athletics had the day off prior to the final.
“The first game was five innings and the kids shouldn’t have been gassed, but we played like it,” said Lalor. “Still we were happy to play two. Coming in we knew if we played two today it would be a good thing.
“Maybe we were happy winning that first one and getting to the final. We played like that instead of bearing down. But then they’re a good team and they played well all weekend.”
The Braves were under the gun from the start when they lost the tournament opener to Sherwood Park. But they came to win three straight over Spruce Grove, St. Albert and Edmonton.
“We put ourselves in a tough spot, losing the opener, but we beat two solid teams in St. Albert and Edmonton and played excellent baseball in the three wins. We hit the heck out of the ball.”
Carter O’Donnell had three singles and Kelsey Lalor a double in the final.
Adam Sandstrom had four singles against Edmonton while Parker Booth had a single and three doubles, Jordan Muirhead two singles and a walk, O’Donnell a pair of doubles, Griffin Moline two singles and Ethan Ropcean a double.
The Braves will take a week off before getting back into it.
“We may play Sherwood Park a couple of times to get ready,” said Lalor.
“It’s a matter of putting it together for a weekend and we know we can do it. It’s a matter of closing it out better.”
Meanwhile, the Red Deer Dick’s Auto Braves came up a bit short in their effort to make the mosquito AA final.
The Braves dropped an 8-4 decision to St. Albert in their final round-robin game, which left them with a 2-2 record, back of both St. Albert and Sherwood Park, who were 3-1.
“It’s disappointing, but it wasn’t the umpire, or one play that changed the game around, they simply played a better game than we did,” said Braves head coach Chris Howell. “I would have loved to have won it, but it is what it is.”
Zach Baker went the distance for the Braves and ran out of gas in the fifth, allowing five runs.
“He threw well, but they strung some timely hits when they needed to,” said Howell. “Plus on the mound they threw everything they at us.”
St. Albert went on to down Sherwood Park 7-1 in the final.