Prince Albert Astros claim gold medal at U15 provincials

Photo by Marjorie Roden Astros’ Pitcher Zane Litzenberger fires the ball towards an Ochapowace batter during the Saskatchewan U15 provincial softball tournament in Prince Albert.

The road for the Prince Albert Astros’ gold medal win officially began on Saturday, and ended at the end of the proverbial rainbow on Sunday afternoon.

The Astros earned U15 Boys title at Rotary Field in Prime Ministers’ Park thanks to an 8-1 win over the Ochapowace Loud Voice in the finals. The game’s end wound up involving a “mercy rule” score coming into effect.

“I don’t know if I’d say that I expected (the win), but I was confident that if we played well and kept doing what we’ve been doing all year, we’d have a really good chance,” Astros head coach Jordan Ambrose said.

The Astros went undefeated during their run to the finals. They beat the Saskatoon Selects 16-0 in round robin play, then downed Ochapowace 8-1 to earn a bye to the finals.

After Ochapowace beat Saskatoon, the Astros once again prevailed with another 8-1 win to take the title.

“Everybody contributed,” Ambrose said. “We’ve got a really strong team. Everybody from our lead-off hitter to our eleventh hitter. Everyone contributed in some way throughout the weekend.”

The win means the Astros will represent Saskatchewan at Nationals in Willmont, Ont. The tournament runs from Aug. 3-8.

Harley Bergen, one of the Astros’ team captains, said he was pleased with their effort.

“It was good,” he said. “We only let in two runs all tournament, and we played all together as a team and it was good. We were all on the bats, defense is good, we were all cheering loud (for our teammates), it was a good weekend.”

After their big win over Saskatoon, the Astros were in tough against Ochapowace. However, he game ended after six innings when the Astros pushed their eighth run across the plate.

“If you’re up by 7 (runs) after the 6th inning, the game’s over, and that seventh run for us came in at the bottom of the 6th,” Ambrose explained. “We’ve had a couple of really close games with this team (we just played) this year, and they’re playing a strong Saskatoon team tomorrow morning.

“We play the winner of that, so I think no matter who we face in the final, it’s going to be tough.”

The eventual winner of the semi-final, to decide who would be facing the Astros, wound up being the same Ochapowace team. 

The majority of the runs came in the first inning, as Ochapowace started off the scoring at the top of the inning, with Dewey Moonias making a sacrifice fly, sending teammate Jaden Ironcloud across the home plate. 

The remainder of the inning belonged to the Astros, as Harley Bergen smacked an RBI double, sending teammate Zane Litzenberger across home plate, minutes before Bergen stole third. Both Kaleb McDougall and Isaac Larson walked, leading to Deitrich Taubhorn making a smoking two-base hit, sending Bergen and McDougall home. Larson eventually stole home plate, giving the home town team a whopping 5-1 lead at the bottom of the first.

The only runs scored in the second came after the Astros’ Rory Ermine was walked. He eventually stole second, third, and finally home. The third inning saw Taubhorn getting beaned by the Ochapowace pitcher, but no more runs were scored until the bottom of the fourth, when Ermine got a double hit and eventually stole third and home base. 

The game was declared over in the bottom of the 5th when the combination of a Bergen double and a McDougall triple sent Bergen home, with an 8-1 win for the Astros.