WESTLOCK – The Westlock Red Lions snapped their mini, two-game losing streak in convincing fashion by no-hitting the St. Albert Cardinals 8-0 last week and in the process tightened their grip on second place in North Central Alberta Baseball League.
And while the June 28 victory in St. Albert got the club back into the win column after being swept by the league-leading Parkland Twins in a June 26 home doubleheader, it muddied the waters for the Cardinals, who at 3-8 are in a dogfight for one of the final league playoff spots.
As of June 29, the Twins lead the league at 8-3, with the Red Lions sitting in second at 6-4. The Fort Saskatchewan Reds are 5-5, while the Barrhead Orioles are 4-6 — the Top 4 teams make the league semifinal series which start Aug. 18-19.
Player/manager Chris Brand said it was good to break out of their mini funk, giving kudos to pitchers Hayden Chies and Ayden Cote who clipped the Cardinals wings. With nine new Red Lions on the roster this year, Brand said the club continues to find its rhythm and are aiming to be hitting on all cylinders when the playoffs begin next month.
“I think everyone is still trying to find their way and their own path and how to contribute in order for the team to be successful,” said Brand, noting senior ball rosters aren’t always the same due to players having other commitments. “Last night we saw St. Albert’s best pitchers and we had good at-bats. And unlike the weekend against the Twins, we were able to score some runs.”
The Red Lions return to St. Albert July 5 to face the Cardinals, then will play hosts July 7 at Keller Field. Beyond that, the Red Lions travel to Fort Saskatchewan July 11, then host Barrhead July 13, with the league all-star game slated for July 17 at REMAX Field in Edmonton. The 9,200-capacity ballpark, nestled in the river valley, has been home to Edmonton’s Triple ‘A’ ball teams including the Trappers in years past.
“It’s a beautiful ballpark, so it’s a lot of fun for the guys who make the team,” he added.