WESTLOCK - The Westlock Red Lions' short stay atop the North Central Alberta Baseball League standings ended abruptly June 26 as the club dropped both ends of a doubleheader to the new league leaders, the Parkland Twins.
The Red Lions simply ran out of hits in Game 1 played Sunday afternoon at Keller Field, an 8-6 loss that saw them get out to 3-1 lead in the first inning, then fall behind and finally load the bases in the seventh before coming up short. Game 2, played after a brief sprinkle later that afternoon, saw the Twins get out to an early lead and cruise to a 4-1 victory.
The losses, combined with a tight 3-2 triumph June 21 over the St. Albert Cardinals at home, has the Red Lions sitting at 5-4, while the Twins now occupy top spot in the league with a 7-3 record — the Red Lions June 23 road game versus the Fort Saskatchewan Reds was rained out and rescheduled to July 19.
Player/manager Chris Brand said they had their chances to at least get a split versus the Twins, but couldn’t get that one, important hit, especially in the bottom of the seventh of the opener when the bases were juiced.
“We just couldn’t manufacture the runs when we needed them today,” said Brand Sunday night. “I thought we played decent defence and we hit the ball hard, but we just didn’t get the timely hits.”
And while the Red Lions were able to avenge an early-season loss to the Cardinals in their Tuesday-night victory which saw pitcher Regan Hoet strike out 10 while only giving up four hits, the bigger news was the nearly-packed stands as Westlock Minor Ball hosted its wrap-up on site before the game. Brand said it was great to have Keller Field packed with young ball players and is something they want to replicate.
“It was great to have the kids out, running around making noise and chasing the foul balls. It’s just a different atmosphere when the stands are full,” said Brand. “We’re going to continue to partner with minor ball. The better the relationship we have with them, the more kids we’ll get coming out to not only watch but continue to play ball.”
The Red Lions now hit the road for a few weeks and will face the Cardinals in St. Albert June 28 and July 5, then return to the friendly confines of Keller Field July 7 when they’ll host them.