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Red Lions open NCABL season with win and tie

Senior squad back in action June 28 versus the Edmonton Primeaus
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Red Lions pitcher Curtis Burlet deals to home plate in the bottom of the fourth inning during the club’s eight-inning 0-0 draw versus the Fort Saskatchewan Reds at Keller Field June 14. The club went on to post 12-9 road win over the Reds June 16. George Blais/WN

WESTLOCK – The Westlock Red Lions are undefeated to start their 2021 North Central Alberta Baseball League campaign, posting a win and tie over the Fort Saskatchewan Reds in opening-week action.

The club started their season Monday, June 14 at Keller Field with a 0-0 eight-inning draw versus the Reds — the first-ever eight-inning scoreless tie in the 54-year history of the NCABL according to league commissioner Paul Riopel. Starter Curtis Burlet was dominant throughout striking out the side on a pair of occasions.

And while pitching and defence dominated in the season-opener, the bats came to life Wednesday night in Fort Saskatchewan. After falling behind 7-1, the Red Lions rallied in the fifth inning putting up 10 runs while going through the batting order twice. Over the final two frames the clubs traded runs as the Red Lions held on for the 12-9 victory.

With not much of a spring training camp player/manager Chris Brand expected some rust to begin the year and said they’re happy with the 1-0-1 start.

“There was a lot of rust to be shaken off for sure,” said Brand following the Wednesday-night tilt. “But we’re happy with the start. Our defence in Game 1 was really good, while our defence was a little shaky in Game 2 — but I think after how we played in the opener I don’t think defence will be an issue for us.

“And our bats are slowly coming alive and hopefully that continues in the weeks to come.”

Next up for the club are a pair of back-to-back games against the Edmonton Primeaus — Game 1 goes in Westlock June 28 at 7:15 p.m., while Game 2 goes the next night in Edmonton. Brand said they’ll use this time off to continue rounding into form.

“We’ll try to practice a bit here and sharpen up in some areas. And it gives our pitchers a bit of extra rest because with not much of a training camp they weren’t able to throw much, so we’ve got some tired arms,” said Brand.

George Blais,

George Blais

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