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Home Sports Royals just miss out on playoff spot at U18 AA baseball provincials

Royals just miss out on playoff spot at U18 AA baseball provincials

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Royals just miss out on playoff spot at U18 AA baseball provincials
Nathan Gay rounds first base following a hit against the Weyburn Beavers on Saturday, Aug. 14. -- Submitted photo.

The Prince Albert U18 Royals came close to the playoffs at the Saskatchewan AA Tier 3 Provincial Baseball Championship, but not close enough.

After winning their first game on Friday, the Royals lost 5-4 and 7-4 on Saturday, leaving them in a three-way tie for the final playoff spot in Pool B. The Royals were eliminated on the runs allowed per inning tie-breaker, but coach Geoff Gay said he was proud of how the team played.

“Really pleased overall,” Gay said during an interview on Sunday. “We stepped up our game this weekend, and played all the teams really tight…. There was not much difference between finishing first and missing the playoffs. In terms of performance, we were right there.”

After beating the Regina White Sox 12-8 on Friday, the Royals looked to clinch a playoff spot against the Weyburn Beavers in their first game on Saturday. Nathan Gay and Evan Malenfant led the way with two hits each, and Jack Mortimer drove in two runs, but the club lost 5-4 in a closely contested match-up.

“The Weyburn game had a playoff atmosphere to it,” Gay said. “Lots of good pitching (and) some good hitting. We maybe just didn’t get some timely hitting in that game to pull out the win.”

The Royals had one more chance to clinch a playoff spot when they faced the winless Regina Blue Jay later in the days. Mortimer led the way with three RBIs this time, while Josh LaClaire pitched 4.2 innings, but the Prince Albert club once again struggled to generate clutch hits when they needed them, losing 7-4.

“We faced a pitcher who was probably the lowest velocity we’ve seen all year, and our hitters just couldn’t adjust to that,” Gay said. “I think they would like to have that game back. Their bats, I would say, went cold in that game.”

Despite the loss, Gay said the future of U18 baseball in Prince Albert is bright. The club returns eight or nine players next year, and Gay expects them to continue to remove.

“They’ve got a really good core,” Gay said. “The team should be quite strong next year as well.”

Weyburn entered the playoffs as the number one seed out of Pool B, but fell 17-7 to the Estevan Brewers in the semi-final. The United Cardinals beat the Regina Blue Jays 9-5 in the other semi-final, then dispatched the Brewers 11-1 in the Gold Medal game to win the provincial tournament.