By Blair/Kathy Stout, Review staff
This years Alberta Summer games were held in Medicine Hat with over 3,500 athletes participating. The boys softball featured five zones being represented, one up from last year including the Zone 4 boys team which was made up of nine players from the Bluffton Bulldogs, four players from the Thorsby Tigers and one player from Big Valley. The coaching staff was from Bluffton and Thorsby.
The team’s first game was against Zone 3 (Calgary) and our boys came out slugging scoring seven times in the second inning leading to a 14- 4 win in five innings. In the second game against gold medal favorites Zone 5, the team placed leadoff man Mackenzie Stout in the bottom of the first. There was no scoring in the second inning but Zone 5 scored twice in the top of the third. We countered by scoring cleanup man Brandon Powlik in the fourth.
The lead changed again when Zone 5 scored once more in the fifth before Zone 4 regained the lead with a two-out single by Cameron Stout scoring Mackenzie Stout and catcher Mike Steeves. Not to be outdone, Zone 5 scored the tying run in the top of the sixth inning but again the Zone 4 boys rallied and even got the winning run to third base in the bottom of the seventh, but could not cash him in.
That meant the teams had to play under international tiebreaker rules for the eighth inning and Zone 5 scored twice in the top but Zone 4 could not respond in the bottom. The boys felt they had let a strong pitching performance by Justin Peterson slip away in the loss.
Zone 4’s next game was against Zone 7 in a game that should have been an easy win but the team simply forgot to play the game. Zone 4 gave up nine runs in the second inning and could not recover going down to an 11-4 loss.
The Saturday afternoon of the tournament brought extremely hot temperatures and a game against rival Zone 6 of Edmonton. The boys knew they had put themselves in a bad spot and came out playing very well. It was a pitching battle for the first three innings, with no one able to score.
Zone 6 scored twice in the bottom of the fourth but Zone 4 countered with three in the top of the sixth. Again, Zone 6 responded and tied it up at one in the bottom of the seventh. Once again the teams were headed to international tiebreaker rules but the outcome was different this time as the boys scored five in the top of the eighth inning led by a three-run homer off the bat of Jaime Culp-Marshall.
Unfortunately however, they couldn’t stop Zone 6 who scored six in the bottom half of the inning. Justin Peterson pitched another outstanding game in the loss.
Sunday morning brought a little cooler weather and a rematch against the number one seed Zone 5.
They started quickly by scoring two in the first but Zone 4 rebounded and took the lead by scoring three in the second. They extended their lead by adding another in the fourth and two more in the fifth making the score 6 to 2.
Zone 5 came out banging in the bottom of that inning by scoring three however Zone 4’s defense and pitching shut them out in the following two innings and advanced a very happy group of boys to the gold medal game against Zone 7.
The team did not take them lightly this time around and put their bats to work quickly scoring three runs in each of their first two innings. The big lead provided the team with some breathing room for our pitcher, who started back-to-back games. The defense held up until the fourth when they gave up a run but in the bottom of the fifth leadoff hits by Ryan Morgan and Brandon Powlik were cashed in when Jaime Culp-Marshall hit his second three-run homerun of the tournament giving the team enough runs to qualify for the Mercy Rule and handing the gold medal to Zone 4.
The Zone 4 team would like to thank their sponsors, as well as the athlete’s parents for their time and support. Without you the team wouldn’t be able to keep this wonderful game alive.