Wednesday, 03 August 2016 14:49

Swift Current minor baseball teams win medals at provincials

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The Swift Current Bantam Indians team is the 2016 Bantam AA Tier 1 provincial champions after beating the Saskatoon Cardinals 13-1 in the gold medal game, Aug. 1. The Swift Current Bantam Indians team is the 2016 Bantam AA Tier 1 provincial champions after beating the Saskatoon Cardinals 13-1 in the gold medal game, Aug. 1. Photo by Matthew Liebenberg

Two Swift Current minor baseball teams are on their way to the 2016 Western Canada Championships after competing successfully at provincial tournaments.

The Swift Current AA Bantam Indians won gold while playing host to the Bantam AA Tier 1 Provincials eight-team championship from July 30 to Aug. 1.
The Swift Current Pee Wee Indians earned a spot at Westerns when they won silver at the 10-team Pee Wee AAA provincial championships in Regina, July 29-31.
The Bantam Indians remained undefeated after five games. Coach Ken Wall said the team was playing well right from the start.
“All these teams can beat each other on a given night and it just so happened this weekend, it seemed like from game one to five we put everything together,” he noted. “At this age, if you can do those three things — pitching, hitting and defence — you’re pretty tough to beat.”
He knew the players have the ability to win the provincial title, but he was not sure what to expect from the team before the start of the weekend.
“The last month we haven’t played very well and so I guess I wasn’t as hopeful as I was at the beginning of the year, but I always knew the kids had it in them and right from the opening pitch this weekend I could tell we had that little extra jump,” he said. “The kids were throwing strikes, we had some great timely hits and defensively we were sound.”
The team started the tournament with a 12-1 win against the Unity Cardinals on July 30, with Mac Gross hitting a grand slam for the Indians.
The Indians played two games July 31. Nathan McInnis, Mac Gross and Hunter Johnson hit home runs during the team’s 15-5 victory against the Saskatoon Dirtbag Blue Jays.
The Indians finished at the top of their pool after winning their second game of the day 7-6 against the Lumsden Cubs.
The Swift Current team played against the Lloydminster Twins in the semi-final Aug. 1. Lloydminster was ahead 2-1 at the bottom of the third inning, but the Indians made two runs after a fielding error to take the lead and the final score was 12-5 for the home team.
Wall felt good about the team’s opportunity to win gold after the solid performance of the players during the semi-final game.
“We were just playing so well,” he said. “I was pretty confident by then and I knew the other guys were probably getting low on pitching and we still had lots of guys left. We probably could have played another game.”
The Indians were dominant during the final game and defeated the Saskatoon Cardinals 13-1 after five innings.
The Indians will represent Saskatchewan at the Western Canada Bantam AA Championship in St. Albert, Alta., from Aug. 12-14.
“That’s a tough tournament,” he said. “We’ll probably pick up a little bit of pitching help. … Teams don’t get there by acclamation. They get there because they won a big tournament like use here. So we’re expecting a real tough competition.”
After such a busy season during which the team has already played almost 50 games, the players will have a brief break before their preparations for Westerns start.
“We’ll give them a week off and then we’ll just go back to the same thing,” Wall said. “Go pitch some ground balls and look at a bit more strategy, and give everybody a lot of reps pitching because that’s what’s going to be the key. We’ve got to make sure we’re on the mound. So we make sure we’ll get everybody back in the rhythm and away we go.”
The Pee Wee Indians lost only two games during the Pee Wee AAA provincial championships in Regina, both against the Sask Five Giants. The Indians had a 3-1 record after the pool games, with a 21-6 loss against the Giants.
The Indians won their semi-final game 15-8 against the Regina White Sox.
The Swift Current team qualified for the Western Canada Championship by playing in the provincial gold medal game, but the Giants won 14-1.
The Pee Wee Indians will make history with their appearance at the Western Canada Championship in Saskatoon from Aug. 12-14.
It will be the first time a Swift Current minor baseball team will represent the city at the AAA Westerns.

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Matthew Liebenberg


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