Royal finish: Prince Albert defeats Consort to capture Western title

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. The U13 AA Prince Albert Royals are Western champions, defeating the Consort Cubs 4-1 on Sunday afternoon at Kinsmen Baseball Complex

A little bit of smoke on Sunday didn’t deter the Prince Albert U13 AA Royals as they took home a Western championship banner with a 4-1 over the Consort Cubs at Kinsmen Baseball Complex.

The 2023 U13 AA Westerns were originally scheduled to take place in Kelowna, B.C. last month, but were cancelled and eventually rescheduled in Prince Albert.

Royals head coach Jason Van Otterloo says the whole experience that involved the tournament being cancelled and relocated to Prince Albert was worthwhile.

“I’m kind of speechless right now. The fact that we full circle this a month and a half later to be winning it at home. I’ll reflect at some point here and find the right words for it. It’s simply amazing.”

Due to heavy wildfire smoke in the area, all games played on Sunday were only five innings in length and time between games were significantly reduced to reduce exposure for players, coaches and spectators.

Royals’ pitcher Nash Noble finished what he started, throwing a complete five inning game on 83 pitches. The pitch count limit for the U13 age level is 85. Noble also helped his own cause with a first inning solo home run to center field.

Van Otterloo says he is confident his team would’ve come out on top even if they had played a regular seven inning contest.

“Five innings certainly did make it easier. But I’m blessed, I still had Markus Exner ready to go in the background. We could have played ten innings today and weren’t too worried about it.  I think we still got a win if we play seven innings, I’m comfortable with (saying) that.”

Noble also started the provincial final for the Royals and threw a complete seven inning game against the Northeast Expos in July. Van Otterloo says Noble’s presence on the mound helps Prince Albert play better as a team.

“The whole team goes out and plays looser because they know he’s got it there. There’s a guy on the mound that’s just going to bulldog through this. All they have to do is get the ground balls.”

The game would be tied into the bottom half of the fourth inning, but the Royals would score three times to take a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Van Otterloo adds that there is one team who has seemed to have the Royals number this season.

“My older son has a way with words. He said the only team we haven’t beaten this year is Team Smoke. Just seems to always get us in some way, shape or form.”