The weekend was perfect for the Peewee boys’ baseball playdowns here in town, and the Stettler boys took advantage of the hometown crowd energy to bring home two of their three games, including a terrific comeback in their final Sunday match against Drayton Valley.
The weekend didn’t open so great for the local boys who, on Saturday, July 12, played first against Cochrane and lost a hard-fought game with a final score of 17-13.
Despite the initial loss, the boys rallied, coming in swinging hard and catching well in their afternoon game against the Northeast Zone North Stars (Edmonton).
“We mercy’d them after six innings,” head coach Kevin Burkhard said. After five innings, if a team is ahead by 10 runs, the game ends before the end of its seven innings, he explained, as it’s very unlikely – and in some cases, where there are maximum runs per inning rules in play, impossible – to catch up.
In this game, the boys sent the Edmonton team packing with a final tally of 14-4.
Sunday, July 13 dawned sunny and warmed up quickly, and by the time the Stettler boys took to the field for their afternoon game, families, friends and baseball fans were sitting under whatever shade was to be had.
The game started out rough for Stettler, who found themselves trailing the team from Drayton Valley with a wide margin, in risk of being mercy’d as they’d done to the Edmonton team the day before.
“We were down 14-6 going into the bottom of the third,” Burkhard said.
The tide turned against Drayton, however, when they ran into a series of problems with their pitchers. The ground pitches and bad catches gave the Stettler team the opportunity they needed not only to catch up, but pull ahead to win with a final score of 22-17.
“They had some issues with the pitching mound,” Burkhard said. “It gave us a chance to get some guys on base, and they were able to steal quite a few.”
It’s the first time the boys have competed at the competitive level, having previously played at the community level, which is not as fiercely competitive, Burkhard said.
“(The Stettler team) did great,” he said. “They’ve improved like you wouldn’t believe. It’s great to watch, and they’re all pulling together, cheering each other on.”
He said several of the players are finding themselves in fixed positions now, and have become more confident in how to react in their area of the field, which has helped the Stettler team improve significantly.
The provincials take place July 25-27 in a yet to be announced town. The Stettler team has a few practices before the provincials, where they’ll play in tier three. They also will have an exhibition game against Red Deer on Monday, July 21, to help hone their skills and give some of their less regular pitchers a chance to get in more experience at the plate.
Red Deer, whose playdown results placed them in tier two at the provincials, has lost two of three games this season to Stettler.