When the Regina Pirates dropped out of the Baseball Saskatchewan provincial tournament in the 22U AAA division, it resulted in a showdown between the Unity Junior Cardinals and the North Battleford Beavers. The championship was decided by a best-of-three showdown series between the two teams, and the Cards won it in two straight games, on their home diamond July 23.
In their first game, in which the Beavers had last bats, the Unity team took an early lead, up 7-0 halfway through the fourth inning, thanks to some strong single hits, followed by great base-stealing and RBIs. In the bottom of the fourth, the Beavers got their first run, followed with two more in the fifth and one in the sixth.
The score going into the seventh was 8-4 for the Cardinals. With two strike-outs and an out at first base, it was three-up and three-down and they were unable to increase their lead during their turn at the bats. Now it was up to their fielding skills to hold off any last-minute rally by North Battleford.
The Beavers’ Jacett Hall hit a single, landing safely at first base. Kyle Fraser went up to bat and the Cardinals were ready. Shortstop Zenon Orobko fielded the ball, throwing to Ethan Scherr at second, for the first out. Ethan then fired the ball to Garin Scherr at first base for a crowd-pleasing double play. Closing pitcher Tylin Hillbig, in to relieve Garin who had pitched the first six innings, sealed the game for the Cards by striking out the Beavers’ third and final batter.
Coached by Dan and Rene Feser, the Cardinals were able to repeat as winners in the second game, held later the same afternoon. The score of 7-2 crowned the Unity boys as provincial champions.
As the top two U22 teams in the province, both the Beavers and the Cards will travel to Stonewall, Man., Aug. 12-14 for the Western Canada Baseball Championships. Stonewll is 20 minutes north of Winnipeg.
On the roster for the Cardinals are Garin Scherr, Carter Johnson, Andrew Feser, Zenon Orobko, Skylar Mackie, Robert Duhaime, Ethan Scherr, Tommy Feser, Kenny Feser, Tylin Hillbig, Brayden Schultz, Dillon Poschenrider, Matthew Snell, Jarrett Gartner and Blaise Weber.
A team that includes players that have played together for a decade or more, as well as players competing in their last junior baseball competition before they age out was evidenced in the Unity Junior Cardinals efforts to win.
Coach Dan Feser said, “I thought the guys played very well defensively and obviously Garin and Tylin threw very well on the mound.”
While Feser feels the team’s hitting was spotty, he also felt that players did a very good job of scoring base runners they had.
“Our hitting has been feast or famine all season but I guess that's baseball. North Battleford is a really good team and they made us work for it and that's the way it needs to be.”
Previously eliminated in the NSRBL league playoffs, the Cards will look to stay in game form leading up to the Western Canadian championship.
Teams so far in the 2022 Western Canadian 22U baseball event include the Interlake Blue Jays, the Elmwood Giants, Unity Cardinals, and North Battleford Beavers. Organizers are waiting for conclusion of Manitoba playoffs to find out the fifth team.
There will be updates on the Manitoba baseball website or Western Canadians baseball website with no confirmation yet of where the tournament results will be provided.