During the course of the 2018 baseball season, the Prince Albert Bantam Royals had a good idea of how a game was going to end up after the first few innings.
That wasn’t the case over the weekend in Unity as they were involved in a number of dramatic encounters on their way to winning a silver medal at the Provincial Tier I Bantam AA Championships.
“It just seemed to go that way for us throughout the tournament,” Royals manager Collin McGuire said. “That’s definitely not how things were for us during the course of the year, as we knew right away if we were going to win or lose.
“For whatever reason, whether we came out of the gates slow or our opponents were able to claw their way back, we had a ton of close games and our guys were able to come out on top.”
After starting things off with a 6-5 walk-off win over the Northeast Expos, the Royals followed that up with an 8-5 extra-inning triumph over the Weyburn Beavers and a dramatic 15-14 victory over the Lloydminster Twins Saturday.
Gabe Klassen was the hero against the Twins as he hit a go-ahead three-run home run in the top of the seventh inning to give his team the top spot in their pool.
“Different players would step up for us at different times,” McGuire said. “Our defence played really well in those games, and I think we ended up being one of the better fielding teams in the whole tournament.
“Our pitching staff was really strong as well. One of the performances that really stood out to me was what Brady Robin was able to do against the Twins. After Gabe hit that home run, Brady was able to shut their batters down and help us get the win.”
The Royals continued their undefeated run Sunday with a 6-5 walk-off triumph in the semifinal against the host Unity Cardinals, but their flair for the dramatic would come to an end in the final as they dropped a 10-9 decision to the Saskatoon Braves.
“We started off the seventh inning with a lead-off double from Nathan Gay, but we were unable to cash him in,” McGuire said.
“It was one of those games that was back-and-forth the whole time. We got up 9-6 but they (the Braves) were able to plug away in the final innings and we couldn’t respond.”
Nine players from the Royals roster will be moving up to the midget ranks next season, while Aspen McGuire, Nick Nye and Jack Mortimer will be returning for their second campaign in the bantam ranks.
“I think the experience those three gained this year will be huge going forward and I expect them to use that knowledge to help the new players that will be filling those holes left by the graduating players,” McGuire said.
“Those that are moving up were part of the provincial championship team in the pee wee level two years ago, and there’s a feeling they’ll continue to be in the mix for titles as they move up.”