Local bantams come close to provincial gold

The Camrose Cougars, armed with Stettler and Coronation talent, came within a whisker of winning the provincial bantam competitive Tier 2

Kyle Poapst of Stettler pitches for the Camrose Cougars during their 8-7 win over South Jasper Place of Edmonton at the bantam competitive Tier 2 provincials.

OLDS — The Camrose Cougars, armed with Stettler and Coronation talent, came within a whisker of winning the provincial bantam competitive Tier 2 baseball championship Sunday at Olds.

In a battle of previously unbeaten teams, the host Olds Spitfires edged the Cougars 7-6 in the gold-medal game Sunday night.

Camrose’s lineup included Kyle Poapst of Stettler, Coronation residents Jayden Buxton, Justin Golby and Zeke Leuck, and Altario’s Jared Ference, who has played out of the Coronation minor baseball system.

The Cougars and Spitfires each went 2-0 in divisional round-robin play and won their respective semifinal games Sunday afternoon.

Camrose defeated Sherwood Park 11-4 in their semifinal, but couldn’t overcome mistakes in the final.

“We had too many errors in the final game, as a team, to pull off the win and we were not hitting as well as we did in the first three games,” said Poapst, 14.

“Their pitcher had a good game.”

Each member of the Stettler-Coronation crew contributed to Camrose’s success through the provincials, which included an 11-1 win over the Calgary Cubs on Friday and an 8-7 victory over the South Jasper Place Jays of Edmonton in a back-and-forth contest Saturday night.

Poapst, who played outfield and pitched during the weekend, said he had “a lot of fun” this summer playing with likeable teammates.

The harmony among the local players — and the talent pool in the region — has prompted preliminary talk of basing a bantam competitive team in Stettler or Coronation next season. The communities plan to explore that possibility — without eliminating the option for players to play at the bantam community level.

Buxton, 14, pitched for Camrose in its first and last games at the provincials. Otherwise a shortstop, he carried a hot bat, including a dominant hitting performance in the come-from-behind win over South Jasper Place on Saturday.

A week earlier, Buxton played with the Zone 4 team that went 2-2 at the Alberta Summer Games in Lethbridge. He pitched in three of those games, including a 5-4 win over Zone 5. He worked mainly as a closer.

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