The Lloydminster bantam AA Twins, back row from left, coach Michael Schmahl, coach Daryl Hanley, Kelton Hanley, Leighton Veitch, Andreai Proctor Ramirez, Dray Souchotte, coach Kurtise Souchotte, Rhett Laycock, Kaden Gallon, Damien Covey, little brother Griffin Covey, coach Bart King; front row, Dawson Smith, Landon Gaudet, Dylan Stephenson, Ellis King and Logan Schmahl, won the Baseball Saskatchewan championship in Unity on Sunday. Submitted Photo
The Lloydminster bantam AA Twins are Baseball Saskatchewan champions.
The Twins won the title by defeating the Alameda-based Southeast A’s 9-8 in the final of the Baseball Saskatchewan provincial championship tournament in Unity on Sunday.
The win proved all the more impressive, as the Twins needed to complete a late-inning comeback to secure the victory in what was their third game in a span of nine hours.
“We were all really tired in the end,” said Twins second baseman, shortstop and pitcher Kelton Hanley.
“The weather all weekend was over 30 C, so for the three games in one day, it was pretty crazy. We were dirty and sweaty, but we knew this was the one chance we had to win and it was right there. We couldn’t let it slip, so we gave it all we had.”
Hanley said the A’s stormed out to an early lead in the final, before the game eased into a more back-and-forth affair.
He said the Twins captured the momentum in the final three innings with a two-run homer by Andreai Proctor Ramirez in the top of the seventh and final frame, ultimately pushing them over the top.
“Once we started to get base runners on, we really started to hit the ball better,” added Twins shortstop and pitcher Dray Souchotte. “We were just smacking the ball.”
The Twins began the three-day provincial championship tournament with a 10-9 win against the Muenster Red Sox on Friday afternoon.
They followed that with a 13-5 pasting of the Sask Five Giants on Saturday morning, before dropping a 12-7 decision to the A’s a few hours later, forcing the club into a tie-breaker game on Sunday morning.
Hanley said their fielding was the big let down in the first contest against the A’s, but the team’s overall performance also lacked its usual gusto.
He said facing a do-or-die situation in the tie-breaker against the Red Sox got their heads back into the game leading to a strong 8-5 win, and extra momentum for the remainder of the day.
“We just started pitching the ball better and didn’t get down on ourselves,” said Souchotte.
The added confidence helped the Twins surge out to an early 10-run lead on the host Unity Cardinals in the semifinals, only to see their opponent stage a late rally.
The Cardinals battled back to make the score 11-10, before the Twins held them at bay in the final inning with Souchotte pitching a strikeout to end the game and score their spot in the final.
“We had always lost in the semis,” said Hanley, noting he and Souchotte have played AA ball together for the past six years.
“Once we won in the semis and we were heading into the final, we knew this was the one chance we had. So, we were pretty fired up.”
The title has secured the Twins a berth as Baseball Saskatchewan’s representative at the Western Canada Baseball Association bantam AA championships that will be held in Kamloops from Aug. 18 to 20.
Joining the team in Kamloops will be the top clubs from British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba, as well as the hosts.
Hanley noted that will be the biggest stage this group has ever played on.
He said the competition and level of play are all unknowns, so the goal right now is just to train hard to get ready and go in there with a willingness to learn and get better.
“We’ll be up there in the games,” added Souchotte. “We just got to get back on the sticks and keep our pitching going.”