Astros season comes to end with loss to Elmira Heat

Cohen Ball of the Prince Albert U15 Astros zones in on a pitch during a game against the Elmira Heat at the U15 Boy’s Canadian Fastpitch Championship. -- Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald

It wasn’t the storybook ending the Prince Albert U15 Astros sought when the U15 Boy’s Canadian Fastpitch championship began earlier this week, but there were still plenty of memories to be made.

The Astros fell 8-1 to the Elmira Heat on Saturday at Kinsmen Field to end their run at the tournament. Astros head coach Neil Finch says the coaching staff was incredibly proud of the way the team played.

“We’re really proud of our guys. They did lots of great things. The reason you play sports is you never know what’s going to happen. We couldn’t be prouder.”

There were plenty of variables for the Astros and other teams to deal with throughout the tournament. After rain postponed all games on Thursday, the schedule was redrawn seeing some teams having to play up to three games in one day.

Finch says the Astros embraced the challenge of marathon days and battled right to the end.

“They’re a tough group. We battled right to the end. In the last game there, we were down 8-1. We needed a run to stay in the game and they were up there taking hacks trying to get the team back in the game.”

Finch also gave massive credit to the host committee and the grounds crew for getting the tournament back on schedule after missing a whole day.

“That’s kudos to the committee. There are so many people that have been here from 6:00 in the morning until midnight every day and have worked their butts off. And so that’s you know, it just shows what happens in Prince Albert when you get a bunch of people together to make an event happen. There’s lots of hands-on deck.”

The Astros would start play Sunday with a 12-8 win over the East Hants Mastodons in a game that saw a rain delay. Prince Albert would lead early 6-0 early I the game, but the Mastodons would score seven runs in the third inning to take a 7-6 lead.

East Hants would extend the lead with a single run in the bottom of the fourth inning. The Astros would rally back for six unanswered runs in the fifth and sixth innings to win the ball game.

The first playoff matchup for Prince Albert saw them lock horns with the Mastodons one more time at Kinsmen Field. After East Hants tied the game at 7-7 with a two out single up the middle in the top half of the seventh off the bat of Mason MacIsaac, the Astros would come back in dramatic fashion.

Zane Litzenberger would crush a ball to center field that would roll the way to the fence. Litzenberger would try for the inside-the-park home run but would stumble rounding third base and was forced to retreat to third.

After a pair of intentional walks, Dante Gamble would hammer a line drive up the middle for a dramatic walk off victory for the Astros.
Finch says it was incredible for the Astros to get a playoff win in front of the hometown crowd.

“It was unreal. We battled this morning; we played each other and then the playoff game was even amped up more. It’s just one of those things where for the boys to win at home to advance and knock another team out was very special.”