HARD THROW - Riley Guntrip of Red Deer’s Bantam Braves makes a pitch during their game in Spruce Grove this weekend. Red Deer walked away with a 6-5 win over Spruce Grove.

Bantam Braves garner wins during successful weekend tourney

Red Deer’s Bantam AAA Servus Credit Union did their part to make it to the final of this past weekend’s Early Bird baseball tournament in St. Albert, but unfortunately Mother Nature didn’t hold up her end of the deal.

The Braves won three straight games over the weekend, including a 10-9 eight innings win over the host Cardinals in the semi-final, to make it to the championship game, but were forced to pack it in after rain made playing the other semi-final and the final impossible.

“We played well all weekend,” said Braves head coach Cam Moon.

“I thought we hit the ball well, put it in play a lot, for the most part. We pitched pretty well and defensively, we were pretty strong. Really, there aren’t any complaints with how we played – especially the semi-final game. We were losing going into the bottom of the seventh and came back to tie it up. We gave up one run in the top of the eighth, and came back to win it. We showed a lot of resolve, had to deal with a bit of adversity in that game, and showed a willingness to win.”

Moon points out though that the semi-final could have easily gone the way of the Cardinals.

“Our guys really battled. They wanted that game pretty bad,” said Moon, who is his first year coaching the bantam AAA squad.

“But St. Albert really wanted it too. When it was all said and done, it was a really good baseball game and it was nice to see our guys rewarded for a pretty good effort.”

Red Deer opened play on Saturday, facing a Spruce Grove team they had yet to play this season.

The Braves beat the White Sox 6-5, with starting pitcher Riley Guntrip going the distance, giving up five runs on eight hits while striking out eight over seven innings.

“Riley did a great job of locating his pitches and he threw a lot of strikes and our guys made a lot of plays behind him. It was nice to see him get the complete game,” said Moon, who also pointed out that Guntrip helped himself out at the plate against the White Sox, going for two for three, with a double, a triple, an RBI and two runs scored.

“He’s certainly been good at the plate. He gets his bat on a lot and he hits with power. He’s been a great fit.”

Levi Moon also had a good game in the batter’s box, going two for three, banging out a single, a double, two RBI’s and scoring a run.

Game two on Saturday saw the Braves down St. Albert 9-2, with starting pitcher Joel Mazurkewich giving up one hit, no runs and striking out five over two innings of work.

Mazurkewich also banged in three runs on two doubles in a two for three performance at the plate for Red Deer, while Jesse Muirhead also had a good day with the bat, knocking in one run and scoring once on two hits.

With a 2-0 round robin record, Red Deer then readied for a re-match with the Cardinals in Sunday’s semi-final.

Starter Mitch Vanson gave up four runs on six hits over four innings, while striking out seven, with the younger Moon coming on in relief and eventually picking up the win, thanks to a walk off single from Justin Van Tetering in the eighth inning which scored the winning run.

“The semi-final was a great game,” said Moon, who notes that pitching was probably the difference in the end.

“When you get into these weekend games where you’re playing three or four or five games over three days, you’ve got to have that depth. And with the pitch count rules, you’ve got to have a lot of guys that can throw for you. Whether they come in for a short period of time or to eat up some innings, you need as many guys on deck as possible. We’re lucky in that, of our 12 guys, all of them can pitch, so we have a lot of options when it comes to our games.”

The other semi-final and final will be made up at a later date.

sports@reddeerexpress.com

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