WESTLOCK - After a two-game winning streak to start their North Central Alberta League season, the Westlock Red Lions are in a funk following back-to-back defeats including a 2-0 home loss to the Barrhead Orioles.
Despite a masterful 13-strikeout performance from pitcher Kyle Lawrence in their May 24 tilt versus the Orioles at Keller Field, the Red Lions just weren’t able to generate anything at the plate — the club only managed five hits that night and left the bases juiced in the seventh inning. The Orioles have been Jekyll and Hyde in their first season back in the NCABL with 11-1 and 14-3 blowout losses contrasted sharply by 5-0 and 2-0 victories.
“They had a couple of soft bleeders that they ended up scoring a couple of runs off of. Kyle pitched just an amazing game,” said player/manager Chris Brand, who noted that he went 0-4 with runners in scoring position that night. “We had opportunities all game and probably left 12 or 13 runners on base.”
And while their 2-2 record is decent and their run differential remains high as they’ve scored 16 times in four games while only allowing 10, Brand said their hitting needs to improve.
“Our pitching and defence is doing good, but our bats need to get going,” he said. “It will come in time. Luckily we play every team five times so we’ll get another crack at them.”
The Red Lions next game is June 2 when they’ll be on the road to face the Fort Saskatchewan Reds, the team they defeated 9-1 to open the season. The boys then return home June 7 to face the Orioles and will then host the Reds June 14. As it stands the St. Albert Cardinals, who suffered their first loss of the season Thursday night to the Reds, while their May 27 contest evrsus the Parkland Twins was called due to darkness, were leading the league at 3-1, with Westlock and Barrhead each sitting with two wins.
“I knew the Cardinals and the Twins would be improved, but for St. Albert to be undefeated (heading into play Thursday) so far was a bit of a surprise,” he added.