CANMORE – The Bow Valley Blues' late game rally wasn't as red hot as needed to burn through the Calgary North Reds' pitching staff during a scorcher of a day in Canmore.
The Reds bested the Blues 12-10 and the local club fell to 1-3 after the seven-inning affair on Sunday (June 27) at Millennium Park, with temperatures exceeding 30 Celsius blazing down on the mountain town.
“The bats were flowing pretty well, but there’s still lots of improvements to make,” said manager Luke Gauvreau of his U21 club. “I believe the end of the season is a going to be round robin style, so everyone’s in it. This is just a learning process until the heat is actually really on.”
Runners Batted In (RBI) for the Blues came from short stop Jackson Ostman, who had a pair, and with one each were third baseman Matthew Arsenault, centre fielder Ryan Brunet, right fielder Alex Lyon, left fielder Tyler Stadnyk, and second baseman Ben Gerrits.
Blues starting pitcher Shun Emori threw 4.1 innings and had six strikeouts in the losing effort.
However, the slow start to the season for the Blues, a team two years removed from being crowned the Calgary North Baseball League champs, is far from concerning for Gauvreau.
Some fine tuning is needed on offence and defence, but the effort has been forthright in every game and practice, he said.
“It’s a different group from the championship team,” said Gauvreau. “Everyone’s here enjoying themselves and when we win that’s the biggest part of it. We want to work towards that win and we’ll get it back there.”
After a scoreless first inning at Millennium Park, the bats came to life in the second with the Reds drawing first blood in a four-run top half.
In the hole but not for long, the Blues fought back with three RBI doubles from Stadnyk, Lyon, and Gerrits to cut the lead down to one.
After the rough second inning for Emori, he calmed things down on the mound and saw only four batters in the quick third inning.
“I was really frustrated after the second, I’m not gonna lie,” said Emori. “But the third one, whole new inning. I just cleared my mind and thought next inning I’m going to shut these guys down.”
However, the momentum from Emori’s impressive third inning couldn’t carry to the fourth as the pressing Reds went back up by four runs, making the game 7-3.
In the bottom half, Ostman and Arsenault answered for the Blues, driving in two runners after the Reds couldn’t capitalize on snatching a couple pop flys.
Now 7-5 in the top of the fifth, the Reds wouldn’t roll over after the defensive lapses and jumped on Emori again to regain a four-run lead.
Emori was yanked with the game at 9-5 and Torin Young, who was playing first base, relieved his teammate. Young would pitch the remaining 2.2 innings of the game.
In the bottom of the fifth, after Young reached base on a single, batter Brunet cashed the runner in with an RBI double.
Brunet would later score on a wild pitch, the first of three Blues runners to score on wild pitches in the inning to tie the tight game at nine.
In the top of the sixth, the Reds bats once again came to life, scoring two runs in the inning.
The Blues were held scoreless in the sixth.
In the bottom of the seventh, the final inning, and with the game at 12-9, the Blues attempted to rally.
Batter Ostman was able to bring home Gerrits to cut the lead to two.
With one on and two outs, Brunet was the Blues final hope at keeping the game alive, but struck out to end the game.
Played in Canmore, which has been under an extreme heat wave recently, the temperature at the game’s 6 p.m. start was 33 C after reaching a high of 36 Celsius earlier that day, according to weather.com.
“It’s good for the players to keep loose,” said Gauvreau. “The heat can get to them, I mean, mentally it’s going to wear on them a little bit … but it’s part of baseball. The heat is part of baseball.”
On the mound, Emori said he wasn’t bothered by the scorcher.
“Once you’re focused on the game, the heat never really came back to me unless I came back to the dugout that’s when it kind of started to hit me, but otherwise, out on the field it didn’t effect me at all. My focus was to win the game and make the plays,” he said.
The Blues’ lone win this season came on Saturday (June 26) against the league’s top team out of Chestermere.
The club is still searching for a home win and will have three more swings at it on July 6 at 6:45 p.m., and July 11 and 18 at noon.