U13 Royals capture provincial title

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. The U13AA Prince Albert Royals celebrate a Tier 1 provincial championship on Sunday afternoon at Kinsmen Baseball Complex.

After two thrilling victories on Sunday afternoon, the Prince Albert Royals are U13 AA Tier 1 provincial champions.

Prince Albert head coach Jason Van Otterloo the Royals put in a lot of hard work to win the championship.

“It’s just the culmination of 365 days of hard work and planning. We had a conversation with our boys last year when we went to provincials and said, ‘Boys, learn everything you can here’ and then turn around and we’ll put a year’s worth of work in and we’ll be the best team we can be.  It turned out awesome. They bought in there. Such an awesome group of kids.”

In the semi-final, the Royals would come away with a 7-1 victory over the Maidstone Lakers, but the final score didn’t tell the full story of the game.

Prince Albert’s Markus Exner and Maidstone’s Noah Perkins would lock horns in a pitchers’ duel, trading zeroes each half inning until the Royals would finally break the scoring drought in the bottom of the sixth inning, exploding for seven runs.

Maidstone would score a lone run in the top half of the seventh off Royals reliever Seamus McFarlane.

In the final against the North East Expos, Prince Albert would score a lone run in the bottom of the second inning as Jett Miller would trot home after a fielding error.

That would be all the offense the Royals would need.

Nash Noble was dominant on the mound in the final for the Royals with a complete game shutout punching out 11 on only 83 pitches. The maximum pitch limit at the U13 level is 85.

Van Otterloo says the depth of the Royals pitching staff paid dividends over the weekend.

“Baseball at this age is all about who you have for pitchers, and we made the choice three years ago to make sure all 12 kids can pitch so that when Sunday rolls around, I haven’t burnt my two best pitchers or my three best pitchers. And today, Markus was near perfect in the first game, and he went toe to toe with probably the best pitcher in the province. Then Nash went up there and threw a gem. He didn’t even reach his pitch limit. And I can’t stress just how awesome it is. That happens because I don’t need to use them in the other games because the rest of the boys support it. It’s so good.”

Prince Albert would score single runs in both the second and sixth inning to pad the lead.

Van Otterloo added that he was amazed by the team’s composure playing in two tight games.

“Watching these kids at 13 years old feel the pressure and not cave is a sign of maturity for them. At no point in any of this last game, it was 2-0 for four or five innings, Bench was good. Everybody was happy. The nerves weren’t there. Semifinal game was a little tighter because you go to get through that game. The boys held up.”

With the provincial win, the U13 Royals will advance to the 13U AA Western Championship in Kelowna, BC from Aug. 18-20.