By Lethbridge Herald on June 22, 2015.
The Lethbridge KB Heating Elks won their home tournament on Sunday, beating the Medicine Hat Monarchs 5-3 at Spitz Stadium.
The Elks are 3-for-3 in tournament play this season, having won the Vauxhall pre-season tournament and a tournament in Medicine Hat earlier in the American Legion baseball season.
The Elks are also 4-1 in Montana-Alberta American Legion AA Conference play, the only blemish being a loss to the Monarchs.
â€œIt was kind of nice for the guys after our setback against the Hat,â€ said Elks head coach Scott Oikawa.
On Sunday, the Elks put up four runs in the bottom of the first inning and starting pitcher Shawn Grandmont handled the rest. Grandmont went the full seven innings and struck out three but he was best when trouble approached.
Down in counts, Grandmont found some of his best pitches and got the Elks out of trouble, holding a tough Medicine Hat team at bay when it threatened in the later innings of the game.
â€œI just had to make good pitches, trust in our defence,â€ said Grandmont. â€œWe have good leaders, guys that get us going and they were great at keeping us up today.â€
The early lead enabled Grandmont to relax on the mound, and despite the teamâ€™s depth at pitcher, Oikawa stuck with Grandmont through tough moments. Nick Ankermann, who didnâ€™t pitch on the weekend, was ready but never called on as Grandmont kept producing outs.
â€œYouâ€™ve just got to get on guys early, when you have a lead, you know you can just throw strikes,â€ he said.
Jack McDonald continued a torrid hitting pace, finishing the championship game 2-for-3. Austin Huculak was also 2-for-3 while Grandmont knocked in two RBIs.
â€œMed Hatâ€™s a quality team but theyâ€™re really banged up right now,â€ said Oikawa. â€œI expect theyâ€™ll recover and keep getting better, which is what we want, too.â€
The Elks couldnâ€™t put the Moose Monarchs away, and they pulled within two in the fifth inning. Despite cutting the deficit, Lethbridge made plays on defence and Grandmont kept inducing fly balls and groundouts to hold off the attack.
â€œWeâ€™ve got lots of arms,â€ said Oikawa. â€œSo it helps us at these tournaments. You look, and Stateâ€™s a tournament, too, so maybe thatâ€™ll work in our favour.â€
The key, said Oikawa, is not to peak too early. The grind of the American Legion season is just beginning, and after 24 years as the Elksâ€™ head coach, he knows tough road swings through Montana await.
â€œItâ€™s going to get tough for us right away, weâ€™ll see how that goes,â€ she said.
The Elks won 12-3 over the Calgary Rockies early Sunday, with Tevin Hall going six innings for the pitching win. Eric Davies, Carter Witbeck and Landen Bourassa each had two hits in that game.