05/16/2016 11:41 AM
There have been some memorable Prairie Baseball Academy games over the programs 20 year existence. That being said, Sunday May 15th, 2016 may go down as the most memorable one yet. Considering what was at stake. It had been some 1800 days since another CCBC team held the championship trophy. On Sunday with a 5-4 victory over Okanagan College this years version of PBA made sure it would remain in Lethbridge for another year.
After having breezed through the first 4 games of the tournament outscoring their opponents 53-9 PBA faced by far the toughest test of the weekend on Sunday. Okanagan College advanced to the final earlier in the day with a 14-9 victory over UofC and had momentum on their side heading into the final against PBA.
PBA kicked off the game with a bang in the bottom of the first inning. Freshman Brett Brittany launched his team leading 5th homerun of the season to left field in the second at bat of the game. In the bottom of the second the boys tacked on another run with a Chance Wheatley RBI ground out and the Dawgs held a 2-0 lead early. Give OC all the credit in the world they played their hearts out all afternoon. The Coyotes answered back in the top of the 3rd to cut the lead in half. The score remained the same until the top of the 5th inning. Hebert walked the first two batters of the inning. As expected OC put a bunt on and a mental lapse and poor throw and catch at 3rd base led to the game tying run plating to leave OC with runners at 2nd and 3rd and nobody out. Coach Hubka went to his bullpen and put Thursday’s starter Jared Libke into the game. Libke struck out a batter and then made his only mistake of the day leaving a breaking ball up in the zone. Aaron Barrett smacked the pitch into the left centre gap to score two more runs. Libke struck out the final two batters of the inning to get out down 4-2. All told Libke through 5 innings giving up only 2 hits and striking out 7. After the 5th he absolutely locked in and willed himself to keep the Coyotes at 4 runs to give his offense a chance.
The boys went quietly in the bottom of the 5th after losing the lead. In the bottom of the 6th tournament standout Dustin Braun smoked a double off the tip of the right fielders glove to lead off the inning. Three batters later Nick Ankermann scored Braun on a single to left field. After six the Dawgs had closed the gap to one. Braun finished his PBA career hitting a tournament best .526.
Two deflating three up, three down innings by the Coyotes left the Dawgs down to their final at bat. They most certainly did not disappoint. Chance Wheatley got the inning going with a 1 out single on a line to right field. After a good battle Layne Currie followed by getting just enough on a ground ball to sneak it past the shortstop. One out runners on 1st and 2nd. Brett Brittany was next and struck out on a nasty pitch from the Coyote pitcher Mitchell St Laurent. Down to the final out Cory Scammell stepped up with the season and a streak of 5 championships on the line. As has been the case all year Scammell clutched up huge taking the first pitch he saw on a line to right field easily scoring Wheatly to tie the game. An incredible way to top off a record breaking year for Scammell. Scammell finished the tournament with a .458 average, 6 runs, 14 RBI’s, 3 2B and 2 HR’s. It was a remarkable way to close out his PBA career. Back to the finish of the game. Matt Malec came up behind Scammell with a chance to end the game and stamp his mark in program history. Just like Scammell, Malec swung at the first pitch. A hopper through the 5-6 hole scored Currie and the celebration was on. The players mauled Malec in right field in front of a great group of PBA parents, family members and supporters. It was an emotional roller coaster for everyone involved.
It will be a tough pill to swallow for Okanagan, but they left everything they had on the field. Hats off to their players and coaching staff on the week. Kelowna was a tremendous host city, and the Coyotes did a spectacular job all week on and off the field. The Coyotes will return most of their lineup in 2017 and surely the experience they gained this year will motivate them even more to come back and battle it out for the title next season.
So that is it for the 2016 PBA season. Another memorable one to say the least. The boys will help out at the annual golf tournament on Tuesday at Henderson Lake, and then head home for the summer. Many of the players on the roster will be competing across Alberta and Saskatchewan in the Western Major Baseball League. Almost all of the graduating players from this year’s squad will be moving on to US four-year schools. Check back in a few weeks for an update on the graduates. This year’s team was one of the best academic years in program history as well as being so good on the field. It is a testament to mission of the Prairie Baseball Academy program.
Good luck to everyone this summer. Thank you to all the supporters who traveled to Kelowna this past weekend. We couldn’t have done it without you. Also thank you to everyone who followed on the website and on twitter. It will only be a few short months until September rolls around and a new young crop of talent will show up at Lloyd Nolan Yard. There will surely be talk of the 2016 final game, and hopefully it will motivate any new recruit to work hard to be involved in a never-forget moment like that of their own.