BY ZACHARY CORMIER
Diamond 1 at Michener Ball Park may haunt the nightmares of pitchers in the Parkland Baseball League for the foreseeable future after the Lacombe Dodgers hosted the League’s annual playoff tournament in the City last weekend.
It was a successful tournament for the hosts, to say the least, as the Dodgers’ red hot batting order propelled them into the Parkland League final with a pair of huge victories over the Red Deer Razorbacks and the Innisfail Indians on Saturday.
“We just kind of came up big in spots. We had some big hits when we had runners in scoring position and if they made any mistakes we really capitalized on it,” said Dodgers player Andre Touchette of his team’s dominating performance over the course of the weekend, which saw them mercy rule the top two teams in the league in just five innings each; downing the Razorbacks 13-3 before putting up an 11-1 victory over the Indians that same day.
Heading into their first game of the weekend against the second-seed Razorbacks, the third place Dodgers knew that it would be important for them to make an early statement in the annual tournament.
“We were able to come out with the first win, which was big for us. That’s what we wanted to do going into the tournament was get that first win and that really kind of set us up for the rest of the weekend,” Touchette said, adding that the first win was a result of a good all-around team outing.
“It was an all-around team effort. We limited our mistakes and like I said, it seemed whenever they made a mistake we really capitalized on it.”
Pitcher Myles Shaw was lights out on the mound for the host team and the Dodgers’ defense was solid, meaning the local team’s consistent batting order had ample opportunity to run up the score on the Razorbacks, who would eventually go on to clinch the second spot in the league final series.
“Our bats have been really coming along in the last few games of the season, so it was nice to see that they kept going,” Touchette said, noting that the team’s pitching was extremely effective all weekend long.
“Our pitching all week was stellar. They pretty much shut down both Red Deer and Innisfail, which is pretty tough to do. They both have two high-powered offenses, so it was good.”
The win over the Razorbacks set up a matchup with the first place Indians. The winner would move on to next week’s league final series while the loser would have to play at least one more game on Sunday in order to advance. It was an important game, but the Dodgers proved that they were up to the task.
“That win against Innisfail, I don’t know if we really went in expecting that, but it was nice to see,” said Touchette of the 11-1 victory.
Again, the Dodgers’ offense seemed unstoppable with runners in scoring position, which allowed them to put some crucial runs up on the board. But it was Nolan Dixon, who knocked in 8 RBIs in the five inning game, including a Grand Slam home run in the top of the 2nd that really solidified the victory for the hosts.
“He really carried our team offensively,” Touchette said of Dixon.
Brandon Huber picked up the win on the mound in the matchup, which ended with the score standing 11-1 in favour of the Dodgers.
“The whole team did their job. Everyone was ready and responsive when they needed to be,” Touchette said.
Now the Dodgers’ focus turns to the best-of-three league final series against the Razorbacks, which will get underway on Friday night in Red Deer.
Touchette said the Dodgers aren’t going to be taking their opponents lightly just because of one win.
“I’m definitely expecting a tighter battle than we saw in the tournament here. They’re a good team. They’re very similar to us in that they have strong pitching and a good offense. We’ve just got to be ready,” he said, adding that the Dodgers will be missing a few players for the series due to work or other commitments.
“We have the pitching that’s going to keep us in every game, as long as we keep our errors down to a minimum we should be fine.”
Still, Touchette said that the </s