WESTLOCK – The Westlock Red Lions are back in the win column and as of June 2, in a three-way tie atop the North Central Alberta Baseball League after snapping an uncharacteristic two-game losing skid with a 7-1 rout of the Fort Saskatchewan Reds.
Red Lions pitching was dominate in the Thursday-night victory in Fort Saskatchewan, with starter Mike Cote striking out four through four innings of work while only giving up a single, unearned run — for the final three innings, Corson Hanlan took to the mound and didn’t give up a hit while also striking out four Reds.
At the plate, the Lions scored early and often, with Chris Brand, Regan Hoet and Hayden Chies all tallying RBIs — Chies, who had an inside-the-park home run, went three-for-four at the dish with three runs scored.
Brand said it was nice to break out of the early-season skid and put up some offence, something that was in short supply in their 2-0 home loss to the Barrhead Orioles back on May 24. The victory has the club at 3-2 and tied with the Parkland Twins, St. Albert Cardinals and Orioles, who as of June 2 all had three victories on the year.
“We were also aggressive on the base paths which put a lot of pressure on their defence,” said Brand. “There’s going to be some good battles throughout the league this year. I mean it’s still early, but right now, the records are all pretty similar.”
The Red Lions will look to exact some revenge on the Orioles this Tuesday, June 7, when they play host to them at Keller Field at 7 p.m. Despite being a first-year team, the Orioles have been impressive at times posting shutouts in all three of their wins.
Red Lions give back
Seventy-five young baseball players, ages five to 13, got the chance to learn from seven Red Lions at a May 28 clinic held at Keller Field.
The morning started off with 60 minutes for t-ball-aged players, followed by an hour-and-forty-five-minute session with senior rookies, then ended with two hours devoted to mosquitoes and pee wees.
Brand said the clinic has been an annual event but hasn’t run in about four years — they had talked about hosting clinics in 2020 and 2021, but COVID-19 put a kibosh on it.
“It was a beautiful day. It’s something we want to continue to do and maybe even grow it to include the communities around Westlock as well,” said Brand. “We work on basic fundamentals and general skills and then play some fun games they can incorporate with drills.”
Going forward, Brand knows the future of the Red Lions and senior baseball in the community lies with these kids.
“Grassroots baseball is important. But it’s also good for them to know that there’s a place to play when they’re done at the midget level … whether it’s us, or the Grey Lions or even slo-pitch,” Brand continued. “I mean with diamonds being taken away in town I guess in a small way we need to prove that minor baseball is thriving.
“And we also like giving back to the community. The more we can get out, the more people know about us. Plus, we like working and having fun with the kids. We were all there once too.”