By Woodard, Dale on May 14, 2019.
The Prairie Baseball Academy knew they had a long road to get to Saturday after losing their first game of the Canadian Baseball College Conference Championship.
They almost got there.
After opening with a 4-3 loss to Edmonton Collegiate Thursday afternoon in Kamloops, the PBA regrouped Friday against the same Edmonton squad in the double elimination tournament and stayed alive with an eighth-inning rally to post a 9-7 win.
That gave them one more game late Friday night against the University of Fraser Valley Cascades and though the PBA nearly matched the Cascades run-for-run, UFV plated one more in a 12-11 victory to end the PBA’s season.
The Cascades went on to win this year’s banner with a 13-2 win over the Okanagan Coyotes on Sunday.
“I’m proud of our players,” said PBA head coach Todd Hubka. “It just sucks that it was the last weekend of baseball. We showed on Friday what we were lacking was the mental side of things, and I thought we showed up. We made some physical mistakes in the games that ended up costing us, but I’m just proud of the fact that they said ‘OK this might be our last game, let’s leave it all on the field.’ We did. We just came up short.”
On Friday against Edmonton Collegiate, Lethbridge jumped out to a 5-0 lead after the fourth inning, but Edmonton scored three runs in the sixth inning and four more in the eighth for a 7-5 lead.
With their championship run at stake, the PBA replied with four runs in their half of the eighth for a 9-7 lead they didn’t relinquish in the final inning.
The PBA opened a 3-0 lead in the second inning when Craig MacDonald walked to lead off and eventually scored on a fielder’s choice.
Ethan Keno-McGregor singled in Ryan Gaab and Marc Chappelle.
A Tyler Arnold home run in the third inning put Lethbridge up 4-0 and the PBA moved up by five when Cooper Finch scored on another single from Keno-McGregor.
In the eighth, Finch drew a leadoff walk and scored on a single from Torrin Vaselenak.
Lethbridge took the lead when Arnold singled and scored Zach Olson and Keno-McGregor.
Vaselenak then scored from third on an error to centre field.
Keno-McGregor was 2-for-4 with one run scored and three RBI. Arnold was 2-for-5 with one run scored and three RBI.
Vaselenak batted 2-for-4, scoring one run and batting in another.
Cal Tecklenburg took the win for the PBA, pitching the last one and two-third innings, allowing two hits and walking one.
Right after the come-from-behind win over Edmonton, the PBA were back on the field against the eventual-champion Cascades in what turned out to be a slug fest.
After the Cascades went up 2-0 in the first, the PBA scored once in the second when Arnold scored on a bases-loaded balk.
Lethbridge added three more in the third inning when Arnold advanced to second on an error to second, scoring Olson and Chappelle. Arnold then scored on another balk.
Fraser Valley went up 7-4 after the fourth inning, but the PBA went up 8-7 with four more runs in the fifth.
Craig MacDonald scored on a sacrifice fly and Levi Pellett and Finch came around on a double to centre field from Olson.
Olson then put Lethbridge up by one, scoring a single from Jayden Buxton.
The Cascade answered back an took the lead for good with three runs in the fifth inning and two in the sixth for a 12-8.
Lethbridge clawed back with one in the eighth when Arnold’s sacrifice fly scored Buxton.
The PBA closed within one in the ninth inning. Lukas Ankermann, pinch running for Ross St. Jean scored on an Olson double to right field and Aaron Gardner scored on a fielder’s choice.
But a double play off the bat of Arnold ended the threat as the Cascades hung on for the win.
The PBA outhit the Cascades 12-10.
Hitting leadoff, Olson was 4-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBI. MacDonald had the other multi-hit game for Lethbridge, batting 2-for-4 with one run scored.
Arnold had two RBI.
Nathan Reiter took the loss for the PBA, throwing one and two-thirds innings and surrendering four runs on two hits, walking three and striking out three.
Despite a season that produced some ups and downs, Hubka tipped his hat to his players.
“These kids do a lot for our program and they do a lot for themselves, academically and athletically,” said Hubka. “Just because they don’t win doesn’t mean that you’re not proud of them and I’m extremely proud of this group of kids for what they do for this community with all camps that they do in the extra work that they do. They’re there for the right reasons and they’re always there to help and I respect them for that.”
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