BY ZACHARY CORMIER
Despite a minor setback in their final regular season game against the Red Deer Razorbacks last week, the Lacombe Dodgers senior men’s AA baseball team are feeling confident heading into the Parkland Baseball League final tournament this weekend.
The Dodgers, who will play host to the PBL’s playoff tourney at Michener Park this weekend, capped off the regular season with a tough 9-8 extra innings loss to the Razorbacks in Red Deer last Friday night.
“It’s the last game of the year. We weren’t too upset about it. We’ve got our big league tournament coming up next weekend, so that’s what we’re focusing on right now,” said Dodgers all-around player Andre Touchette after Friday night’s barn burner.
The loss brings the Dodgers’ final record to 10-6, just two games back of the league leaders.
It was a difficult night on the mound for pitchers on both ends, as batters smacked base hit after base hit to run up the scores. By the top of the sixth of seven innings, the score was deadlocked at six runs apiece.
In the end, though, it was the Razorbacks who would come out on top, hitting a walk off single to shallow centre field in the bottom of the eighth inning to seal the deal.
“We were happy with the way it went. We grinded it out and, like I said, it didn’t end the way we wanted it to but that’s the way it goes sometimes,” Touchette said of his team’s overall play.
It was an important game for the two teams. Heading into the contest, the Dodgers were just one game back of the second place Razorbacks in the PBL standings.
While a win for the Dodgers wouldn’t have changed anything in the standings due to run differential, it would give them a bit of momentum heading into their opening game against the Razorbacks this weekend.
But, according to Touchette, the Lacombe team was more worried about keeping everyone healthy for Saturday’s big matchup.
“With the tournament coming up next weekend we’re just kind of saving some arms. So we put some people in positions that they’re not usually accustomed to,” he said, adding that the team’s focus now will be on making a good run at the league championship.
“We like our chances. We have the pitching, we have what it takes. As long as we keep focused and keep our heads in it, I think we’ll be fine.”
In order to do that, though, the Dodgers will have to overcome the other two teams in the Parkland League’s highly contested top three: the first place Innisfail Indians and the second-place Razorbacks, who both finished the season with 12-4 records.
“It’s a competitive league. Like you said, the top three and even the top four are strong teams and it’s just going to come down to who executes on the weekend,” said Touchette, noting that because the Dodgers finished third in the standings, they will be the away team for any games against the top two.
The Parkland Baseball League final tournament runs from Friday through Sunday at Michener Park in Lacombe. After the conclusion of the tourney, the top two teams will go on to play each other in a best-of-three final series to determine this year’s PBL champion.
The Lacombe Dodgers will play their first game of the tournament against the Red Deer Razorbacks at 10 a.m. on Saturday, with the winner moving on to a semi-final game at 4 p.m. that same day.
When asked about the impending matchup, Touchette said his team will be ready.
“They’ve kind of had our number this year, so I think the important thing for us is just to be sound defensively. If we can put some runs on the board, our pitching should be able to keep us in it.”