June 16th, 2024

Dawgs have their day

By Dale Woodard on August 17, 2021.

The Lethbridge Academy Dawgs didn’t quite have another comeback in them.

Still, the hosts of the Baseball Alberta U15 AAA Tier II provincials still managed to get in a pair of games on the final day Sunday at Atso Towaawa Park and tried for a third.

The Dawgs were downed 16-6 by the Sherwood Park Athletics in the semifinals Sunday afternoon. However, Lethbridge earned a berth in that final-four game following a 7-5, come-from-behind win over the Edmonton Expos in the tie-breaker game that morning in which the locals rallied from a 5-1 deficit to post the win with six runs in the top of the seventh inning.

“Obviously it was a good turnout from the crowd, a lot of energy on the field,” said Dawgs head coach Andrew Doyle. “Unfortunately, we didn’t bring everything to the table that we did in the (tiebreaker) game in the seventh inning. All in all, the kids played hard, everybody got a chance to touch the field.”

After opening the weekend with an 11-3 loss to the eventual provincial champion Calgary Cardinals Friday night, the Dawgs bounced back in their only game Saturday against the same Expos team they came back against Sunday morning with a 7-1 decision to improve to 1-1.

“It’s been year since we’ve done competitive ball, so it’s just nice to get back out here,” said Dawgs Tye Carrier, 15. “All my coaches have said baseball is won in an inning, an inning can take the game away. You could have a 10-1 lead and then the next inning they score. They (Sherwood Park) are undefeated and deserve to be here, but it was just a great experience to be here.”

With the Expos seemingly in command heading into the seventh of the tie-breaker Sunday, the Dawgs got on the sticks when they needed it most, plating six runs in the top of the seventh before holding off Edmonton in their half of the inning.

“That was a team we had run the score on earlier and with that game we were all about the energy,” said Doyle. “We told them it’s all about energy and to empty the tank, all or nothing here, you got nothing to fall back on.”

“It was a lot of heart and the coaches pumping us up,” added Carrier.

“In the last inning we all came through and helped each other out and came out on top.”

But in the semifinal, the Athletics showed a little sizzle of their own at the plate, kicking in the 10-run rule with their 16-6 win as Sherwood Park headed to the final to face the Cardinals.

“The message was it wasn’t the end result we wanted, but they showed a lot of heart to get where we are,” said Doyle of the Dawgs’ post-game meeting. “You could almost say we were a bit of an underdog in Tier II with some of the other teams, but after our comeback earlier in the day we’re happy. We wouldn’t trade this season for the world.”

And the Dawgs got to end it in front of the hometown crowd as provincial hosts on Lethbridge’s west side.

“I thought it was good,” said Doyle. “I know there was a big crowd and deep down there were probably some nerves, but they didn’t show it. They all played very maturely. We put a few guys in some touch pitching spots and they delivered for us.”

When the team took shape back in early-June, the Dawgs kept themselves busy leading up to the provincial final.

“We were going every weekend, the only weekend we had off was before provincials,” said Doyle. “But before that, it was every weekend and that took a toll. We had two injuries, I wouldn’t say they’re overuse injuries, but injuries do build up. And (Sunday) would have been a three-game day if we had moved on. It’s a lot of baseball for 15-year-olds.”

Though happy to play anywhere, Carrier enjoyed last weekend’s role of provincial hosts.

“I enjoy baseball anywhere, I’ll travel anywhere for baseball,” he said. “But in front of the home fans was where it was at. There’s nowhere like home. I loved the music and the people here. It was all about baseball.”

Despite falling one game short of the provincial final, Carrier credited his teammates that got them that far.

“It was a great team this year, one of the best teams I’ve played on, great heart all around,” he said. “The start of the year was kind of rushed. We got a couple of practices in and every weekend we were four games in. But it was good though, a good year.”

In the final, the Cardinals defeated the Athletics to earn this year’s provincial title.

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