Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Fort Macleod Royals edge Cranbrook Bandits twice in exhibition double header

C. Davis and T. Lucas photos and video

Chris Davis with Toni Lucas and Carrah Walter

American Legion Baseball (ALB) came to Pincher Creek last weekend with the Fort Macleod Royals hosting a Skills and Drills Baseball Camp on Saturday afternoon May 23 (click here for that story) and then hosting an exhibition double header at Pincher Creek's Sproule Field against Cranbrook's Bandits on Sunday afternoon and evening May 24.  The Royals maintained their reputation as the Lethbridge League ALB team to beat by winning both games by 1 point.

The Bandits are the 2014 Montana B State Champions.  In this outing the Royals and the Bandits were very evenly matched, making nail-biters out of the later innings in both games.

Cranbrook Bandits

"It's nice to see Cranbrook," said Royals GM Carrah Walter. They're not in our league. the only chance we'd ever get to see them is in a tournament, which we haven't seen yet."

"It's great to have baseball in Pincher Creek this weekend with the Skills and Drills little league yesterday and having the exhibition games with Cranbrook today. It's good for the kids, and good for the program as well."

The Royals are the cream of the southwestern Alberta crop, with members from Fort Macleod, Pincher Creek, Lomond, Okotoks, Bellevue (Crowsnest Pass), Taber, Glenwood, Enchant, Sparwood, and Duchess. Ten towns represented on a bench of 17. A lot of these young men play or have played against (and sometimes with) each other in numerous other sports during their junior and high school careers. Every game is a road game, even the home games for most of the team.

Darion Simmonds pitching for the Royals

Pincher Creek is very well represented, with five contributions to the roster - Tyson Goodreau, Deloy Mackenzie, Matthew Duncan, Jaegar Hann, and Colter VanEe. A sixth, Beau Walter from nearby Glenwood, belongs on this list too. With the exception of up-and-comer VanEe these guys also represent Pincher Creek as members of the high school baseball Halton Hawks. Head Coach Brad Kropinak is also from Pincher Creek. Glenwood's Carrah Walter is General Manager, mom to Beau, and a blessing to sports reporters.

Three Royals come from Fort Macleod - Ty Odney, Aiden Kidd, and Peter Zmyrchuk. Assistant Coach Ryan Cook is also from Fort Macleod. Crowsnest Pass is represented by Bellevue's Chase and Colby Snider. Tanner Dalton is from Okotoks. Kai Gandner is from Sparwood. Brandyn Howg is from Enchant. Nathan Douglas is from Duchess. TJ Tornquist is from Lomond. Darion Simmonds is from Taber.

On the diamond, they're all from the land of Baseball. Home is where they stand, bat in hand, and the goal is to run away from it fast enough to get back to it.

The season really gets started in June for the ALB, as high school baseball begins to wrap up. Before the season is done the Royals will travel to Montana and Washington State, and all available points in between.

Matthew Duncan pitching for the Royals

Game 1 - Come from behind win for the Royals

It was a windy day at Sproule Field for the Royals/Bandits double header, with each game scheduled to be 7 innings.  The Bandits, batting first as the visitors, had their best at-bat of the game, scoring three runs.  They shut the Royals out of the bottom of the first in quick time. A scoreless second inning.  One run for the Bandits at the top of the third made it 4-0.  Chase Snider put the Royals on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third.  Two unanswered runs for the Bandits in the fourth put them well ahead 6-1. Nothing for the Bandits in the fifth, largely due to a solid pitching effort from Tanner Dalton. Royals' fielding errors were almost costly.

Chase Snider and Aidan Kidd pulled the Royals out of the basement and into the elevator with a run each in the bottom of the fifth, making it 6-3. Dalton shot the Bandits down fast in the top of the sixth. Duncan Mackenzie and Aidan Kidd scored for the Royals, and it was 6-5 Bandits going into the seventh. Dalton shut the Bandits down fast again in the top of the seventh. Fast forward just a little bit, Royals behind by one, do or die, bases loaded, Tyson Goodreau on third and looking to steal home, Ty Odney at bat. Crack goes the bat, Goodreau makes it home, tying it 6-6. A strikeout for a guy who did much to bring the Royals this far, so I'll go easy and name no name, and it was into extra innings.

Zip for both teams in a rapid-fire tense eighth. Into the ninth, with fans going crazy, the Royals still in do-or-die mode, and nothing again for the Bandits, put away quick due to great pitching from Dalton and much improved fielding from the Royals. A double from Tyson Goodreau. Ty Odney helped him to third, and Tanner Dalton hit him home.
Bam.  7-6 Royals.

Intermission - insert burgers and catch a rest after 9 hard-played innings.

Game 2 -  The Royals give it away and take it back again

Word on the Royals bench was "wear them down" for the second game of the double-header, for which the Royals were the "away" team.  A strong first inning put the Royals ahead 3-2.    The Bandits tied it 3-3 after shutting the Royals down quick in the second.  Both teams were denied in the third.  A strong fourth from the Royals, who scored 3 unanswered runs.  6-3.

Then came the fifth.

Perhaps Royals fans should agree to never speak of this inning again after today.

It started off well for the Royals, who scored 5 runs to lengthen their lead to 11-3.  Pretty good, right?  Then the bottom fell out.  Multiple fielding errors cost the Royals dearly this time, and the Bandits made out like baseball players, playing their best inning of the day and putting 6 away before it was over.  6 runs in one inning = the Bandits' total for the previous 9 inning game.  11-9 now, the Royals still ahead but their huge lead whittled down significantly.

The Royals' dugout was not a happy place.

If you want to get Coach Kropinak excited in a not-good way, the recipe is right there.

Moving on.

Aidan Kidd made it home for the Royals in the sixth.  Nothing for the Bandits this time. 12-9 Royals. Both teams were looking very tired going into the seventh, to be expected as they were facing their 16th inning of the day.  Tanner Dalton was the lone scorer for the Royals at the top of the seventh. 13-9.  The Bandits weren't going down without a fight, not with a possible victory so close.  They scored three more runs before Royals pitcher Ty Odney shut them down.  Final score: 13-12 Royals.

16 innings of baseball and these two teams ended up being only two points apart.

Tyler Thorn batting for The Bandits
"The team that executes better wins." - Royals Head Coach Brad Kropinak.

2015 Fort Macleod Royals
1 - Ty Odney - Fort Macleod
2 - TJ Tornquist - Lomond
4 - Tyson Goodreau - Pincher Creek
5 - Tanner Dalton - Okotoks
6 - Aidan Kidd - Fort Macleod
8 - Deloy Mackenzie -Pincher Creek
10 - Chase Snider - Bellevue (CNP)
11 - Darion Simmonds - Taber
12 - Beau Walter - Glenwood
14 - Brandyn Howg - Enchant
17 - Matthew Duncan - Pincher Creek
16 - Jaegar Hann - Pincher Creek
9 - Kai Gandner - Sparwood
20 - Nathan Douglas - Duchess
21 - Peter Zmyrchuk - Fort Macleod
Colter VanEe - Pincher Creek
Colby Snider - Bellevue (CNP)

Head Coach - Brad Kropinak - Pincher Creek
Assistant Coach - Ryan Cook - Fort Macleod
General Manager - Carrah Walter - Glenwood

Related story:
2015 Fort Macleod Royals Skills and Drills Baseball Camp in Pincher Creek

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