Tales from the Doug-Out for August 4, 2022
The U 18 AA Braves were off to Olds over the long weekend to play their final weekend of ball. After being moved up to Tier 1 and coming in the 8th seed they knew it wouldn’t be a picnic in the park. It would be a tough weekend for sure. They could have sandbagged in the final round and ended up in Tier 2 and most certainly get a medal. But these guys are better than that. What is the point of playing below your potential?
It all started Friday at 12:00 against a team that the Braves had close games with all year. Chestermere came in as the favorite and was shocked when the Braves took an early 5-0 lead. It was a great game that came down to the bottom of the 7th tied 8-8. Unfortunately for the Braves, the Crushers were able to score 1 run for the walk-off victory. A heartbreaking loss, but a loss that showed the Braves belonged in Tier 1. Long-time Braves chucker Keagan Locke was selected as the player of the game for pitching a fantastic game.
The next game was against a team that has played in Tier 1 many times against the Braves over the last 3 years and has always been trouble. The Castor team is loaded with 3rd-year players and in fact, this year was handpicked and built to try and go to Westerns. The Braves battled hard all game keeping it close at 6-3 until the 5th inning when the Raiders finally broke loose and were able to score a few extra tack-on runs to win the game. The boys battled hard but Castor was the better team. Veteran Brad Atwal pitched a great game keeping things close and was named the games player of the game.
Then came the dreaded back-to-back game. Coming in as the 8th seed they don’t give you any breaks in the draw and you have to play a back-to-back game on Saturday. It was 30 degrees out and the Castor game went the full 3 hours, meaning the boys only had a 20-minute break to eat and hydrate and be ready and play the host Olds. After two tough losses and having to play back to back all the odds were stacked against the Braves. It was close for the first 5 innings at 6-2, but Olds finally broke thru and scored 6 runs in the 5th inning to win the game in 5 innings. Once again slugger Keagan Locke was selected player of the game, playing solid at 3rd base and also keeping his hot bat alive at the plate.
No one ever wants to go 0-3 on a weekend, but it did show how close this team is to competing for a Tier 1 championship and representing Alberta at Westerns. With only a couple of overage players moving on the Braves will have a great opportunity to have a very strong team next year and hopefully challenge for the top spot. The Braves do lose Brad Atwal who was one of the team’s best pitchers and a great assistant coach. They also lose Dallas Sparklingeyes who was a great catcher and middle infielder. Good luck to Brad and Dallas in the future! Looking forward to next year’s season and maybe a little revenge.