WESTLOCK – The Red Lions aim to get back into the win column tonight at home following back-to-back defeats at the hands of the reigning North Central Alberta Baseball champs, the Sherwood Park Athletics.
The two losses, an 8-7 extra-inning heartbreaker at Keller Field July 14, followed by a 7-0 shellacking the next night in Sherwood Park, knocked the club out of top spot in the league and into a second place. Now with two games in hand, the A’s are the class of the NCABL with a 5-1 record, followed by the Red Lions at 5-2-1. The Edmonton Athletics occupy third at 5-3, while the Parkland Twins hold down fourth with a 3-3 mark.
Player/manager Chris Brand said last week's home loss was especially tough as they had raced out to 4-0 lead through the first three innings. Undaunted, the A’s came roaring back in the top of the fourth to tie the game, but the Red Lions didn’t waste any time regaining the lead and put up a three spot in the bottom of the inning. But the A’s kept chipping away and scored two in the fifth, then one in the seventh to knot the game before plating the winning run in the top of the eighth.
“We were in control pretty much all game, but they just kept battling back. It was a mixture of errors and they are a good hitting team. They’re very experienced and are tough outs all the time,” said Brand. “Maybe it's karma. We won a game last week that maybe we shouldn’t have and we lost one this week that we probably should have won.”
The wheels simply fell off for the July 15 rematch in Sherwood Park as the Red Lions gave up too many easy runs and couldn’t get their bats going.
“We were giving them a lot of free bases and when you do that you put yourself in a bad situation,” said Brand.
The Red Lions will now look to regroup tonight versus the Parkland Twins — first pitch in the Wednesday, July 21, tilt at Keller Field is slated for 7:15 p.m. Following they’ll have a nine-day break before facing the Twins on the road July 30.
“We definitely want to get back in the win column, especially before we go on this long break,” he said.
After that they’ll again have another week-plus break before squaring off versus the St. Albert Cardinals for their final two-game series of the regular season. Game 1 goes in Westlock Aug. 9, while the clubs play in St. Albert the following night.
“We need a couple of more wins to solidify a playoff spot and we for sure would like to host a game or two in the league semifinals. That’s our goal down the stretch,” said Brand.