June 18th, 2024

U18 Lakers look to rebound at provincials


By Dale Woodard on August 28, 2021.

The Lethbridge Lakers are hopeful they’ve worked out the kinks as they head into the weekend portion of the Baseball Alberta U18 AA Tier 2 provincial championship this weekend.

The Lakers were downed 18-8 by the Okotoks Outlaws in the provincial opener Friday after noon at Spitz Stadium.

As they head into this morning’s play when they take on the St. Albert Cardinals at 9 a.m., the first time hosts hope to put a few miscues from Friday’s opener behind them with play running until Sunday.

On Friday, the 10-run rule kicked in after five innings, but not before the Lakers made a little bit of late noise with four runs in the top of the fifth inning.

Lethbridge also plated three runs in the third, but the Outlaws Blues slugged out an eight-run second inning to go along with three runs in the first and third innings and four more in the fourth to post the win as they look to go 2-0 when they face the Cardinals at 3 p.m.

“Obviously, it was the first-game jitters,” said Lakers head coach Brandt Anderson. “The guys made a lot mental errors. We hit the ball really well, which was good to see, at least we could jump on the ball. They showed a little bit of fight at the end, that was really good to see as well. We just need to clean it up and tighten it up. There were some missed signs, plays and balls. But that happens. It’s baseball. You’re going to have mental errors. Thankfully, it’s just game one and we have another game to bounce back. We’re going to focus to (this morning’s) game and move on from this one and try to get the second game.”

After spending the entire summer on the road, the Lakers also enjoy being in the confines of Spitz Stadium.

“They’ve been looking forward to it for a while now because these are our first home games of the year, we haven’t been able to play any home games yet,” said Anderson. “This is the first time we’ve gotten to host, so guys get to have a good rest and don’t have to do as much travel. It’s really exciting to see the home people come out and support us like they did in that game.”

Lakers first baseman Karsen Haney agreed a few miscues proved costly in Friday’s opener, but added its nice to spend the weekend in front of the home crowd, as provincial hosts, no less.

“Definitely lots of mental errors, we just have to pick up on that a little bit,” said Haney. “It’s huge, having the home crowd and having your family come here. Being on the road all the time is fun sometimes, but it’s nice to be home.”

Spending all of their year on the road has meant ample time spent up north.

“We’ve played a total of 16 games, said Anderson. “Every second weekend we’ve been up to Leduc, Stettler and Calgary and all around, everything Calgary and north. So it’s been a lot of travel for us. But it’s good to finally be at home.”

The Lakers are also a young team of mostly 15 and 16-year-olds playing in the U18 division.

“We’re a development team of 15 and 16-year-olds,” said Anderson. “We have the odd 17-year-old, but predominantly we’re a very young team. So it’s good to see them get competition that’s older and more experienced like you saw in (Friday’s game). We’ve had a good season. A lot of times when we’ve lost its been our own mental errors, but that comes with the youth. When they clean that up it’s going to be a great ball club going forward. We had a good year and we want to try and put a good exclamation mark on the year.”

Haney said being a young team in the U18 division has been a learning experience.

“Being the youngest team in this league, it’s pretty big. And we’re winning games, so it just shows how good we can be.”

The Lakers now look to pull to 1-1 with the Cardinals on the slate this morning.

Lethbridge defeated St. Albert earlier this season, but Anderson said they’re not taking this morning’s opponents lightly.

“We know we’re going to see their top two arms because we’re their first game of the tournament and you have to win at least one to try and get in the playoffs. So we’re going to see their best guys tomorrow, so we’re not taking them lightly by any stretch of the imagination. But we have to move on from this game and have to win game number two.”

After this morning’s game, the Innisfail Hawks face the Black Gold 47’s at noon before the Cardinals take the field for the second time of the day and play Okotoks at 3 p.m.

The Chestermere Crushers and Hawks wrap up today’s play at 6 p.m.

The playoffs begin Sunday starting at 8 a.m.

The first semifinal is slated for 1 p.m. with the second following at 3:30 p.m.

The provincial championship goes at 7 p.m.

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