By Lethbridge Herald on July 24, 2015.
The worst thing Lethbridge Y’s Men Miners coach Jared Ruff could say about his team’s 14-5 win over the Tri-County Cardinals in their opening game of the Montana-Alberta American Legion Baseball North District championship tournament at Spitz Stadium Thursday night?
They failed to get a mercy-rule win.
“That was the one thing, it would have been nice to save an arm but I don’t think I’m allowed to complain after an opening win like that, not in the District tournament, anyway,” said Ruff.
The Miners got seven quality innings from starting pitcher Kyle Bloor, who flagged a bit at the end but still finished with just two earned runs and struck out seven Cardinal batters. Jack Jensen pitched the final two innings, which were almost avoided as Lethbridge was up by 11 runs in the seventh. A 10-runs-or-more lead in the seventh is enough to trigger the mercy rule at the District tournament, but Tri-County strung a few hits together against Bloor, extending the game but not changing the outcome.
“It’s always nice to win the first game, and as much as you want your team to be in close ball games, to stay sharp, it’s nice to be up big and save the coaches a few gray hairs,” said Ruff. “I was happy with how we played, we put up runs consistently.
“We had a few big innings, but we were generating offence in every innings and that’s what we want to do.”
Ruff said the Miners aren’t built for blowouts, something evidenced by their conference record. The Miners, Havre Northstars and Medicine Hat Knights all finished with 15-9 records. Havre is seeded first because of head-to-head record. Medicine Hat is second and the Miners are third.
The Miners have Medicine Hat today at 7 p.m. at Spitz Stadium. the two rivals played it close all season and Ruff expects more of the same.
“It’s the rival, right? We’ve had some good games against them,” he said. “They’re a good team, I think we’re a good team but we’ll see what happens.”
Liam Leech was a tough out on Thursday, going 3-for-6 at the plate with a pair doubles and five RBIs. Torrin Vaselenak also had two doubles and added a pair of hits. Bloor was his own best friend with three runs batted in.
“Bloor’s been our guy this year, having him come in an pitch that well, it settles the younger guys. We changed our approach at the plate against their pitcher, he beat us up pretty bad last time, he throws that deuce out-pitch in any count and we just let him throws balls and we were really patient on that pitch and we were able to get to him.”
In early games, the Vauxhall Spurs beat the Fort Macleod Royals 14-3, ending the game through the mercy rule. The Knights advanced with an 8-7 rallying win over the Great Falls Chargers. Today, Havre faces Vauxhall at 3 p.m. before the Miners and Knights begin at 7 p.m.
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