SAMBA rolls out red carpet
Provincial hosts for mosquito and peewee AA tournaments this weekend and midget, bantam and peewee AAA tournaments next weekend at Legion Memorial Park
Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 06:00 am
Field of Dreams
Peewee AA (Tier III) July 25 to 27
Mosquito AA (Tier III) July 25 to 27
Midget AAA (Tier I) Aug. 1 to 4
Bantam AAA (Tier I) Aug. 1 to 4
Peewee AAA (Tier I) Aug. 1 to 4
Visit www.stalbertbaseball.com or www.baseballalberta.com for schedules and results.
Legion Memorial Park is the field of dreams for five provincial championships hosted by the St. Albert Minor Baseball Association.
The Baseball Alberta mosquito and peewee AA Tier III tournaments start Friday and next weekend the Big Three – midget, bantam and peewee AAA Tier I championships – will be staged in St. Albert.
“From a SAMBA perspective we’re extremely excited. It’s a huge event for us,” said president Ed Ewasiuk. “It’s going to be two exciting weekends to watch baseball.”
The spinoff from consecutive weekends of championship baseball will not only benefit SAMBA but the city as well.
“There is going to be a lot of visitors coming to the city and I think all the businesses will certainly see some benefit to it,” Ewasiuk said.
The AAA tripleheader is also a major coup for Baseball Alberta’s large association of the year in 2013.
“We’ve never really hosted the major three before (on the same weekend),” Ewasiuk said. “SAMBA’s focus is really to support the development and promotion of baseball and we’re extremely excited to be the primary host for the major divisions this year.
“It certainly puts us in the forefront of all the Baseball Alberta communities, that’s for sure.”
The AAA teams are competing to represent Alberta at nationals (Aug. 14 to 18 at Magog, Que. for midgets and Aug. 22 to 26 at Vaughan, Ont. for bantams and London, Ont. for peewees) and westerns (Aug. 22 to 24 in B.C. for midgets and Aug. 15 to 18 at Spruce Grove for bantams and Altona, Man. for peewees).
“You are certainly going to see a lot of skill by the players. This is the pivotal point in their season and there is certainly going to be a lot of excitement and a fantastic level of baseball,” Ewasiuk said.
The home field advantage should favour the St. Albert Cardinals.
“It’s been a very long time since we won provincials in our back yard. Perhaps this will be the year to change that,” Ewasiuk said. “I know all the boys and parents and families are looking forward to staying home and being able to sleep in their own beds and really focus on baseball. I don’t know if the impact of keeping the team together in a hotel somewhere keeps them more focused than being at home but we’re hoping to change that trend this year.”
The mosquito AA blue Cardinals are 10-11 after going 4-2 in the provincial round for second place.
The Cardinals kick off the six-team tournament Friday against Red Deer at 3 p.m. in pool B.
The peewee AA blue Cardinals are 5-12 following their 0-5 showing in the provincial round.
In the five-team draw Friday the Cardinals play the Northeast Zone at 9 a.m. and Heisler at 7 p.m.
The opening ceremonies for the mosquito and peewee provincials is 6 p.m. Friday.
All three SAMBA AAA teams are serious contenders for provincial honours.
The midget AAA Cardinals, last year’s Tier 1 provincial finalists and Western Canadian gold medallists, were ranked first in the NorWest league at 25-5 before their last league game Tuesday against SEEBA 2 in St. Albert. The score was unavailable at press time.
The last time the Cardinals won provincials was 2008.
The bantam AAA Cardinals were 22-16 overall as winners of 16 of their last 18 games going into their last game before provincials on Tuesday against the Spruce Grove White Sox in St. Albert. The score was unavailable at press time.
The Cardinals are striving to win their first provincial title since 2007.
In the provincial round the Cardinals are 19-5 after Sunday’s 10-5 loss to Okotoks Dawgs Black (20-3) in Spruce Grove. First-year bantam pitchers Zach Froment, Davis Pratt and Colton Girard toed the rubber against one of the top teams in the province. Danny Tkachyk and Joseph Karall had two hits apiece.
This weekend at the Alberta Summer Games in Airdrie six Cardinals – Girard, Tkachyk, Peter Corrigan, Cole Seitz, Ross Supruniuk and Tylor Jans (recorded his team-leading eighth win while allowing only two earned runs and fanning five in last week’s 18-6 complete-game victory over SEEBA) – will play ball for Zone 5 (Black Gold/Yellowhead).
The Zone 5 coaching staff is comprised of head coach Dave Maguire, pitching coach Fred Mills, hitting coach Kurtus Millar and first-base coach John Tkachyk of the Cardinals.
The peewee AAA Cardinals are flying high at 18-3 as the No. 1 team in the provincial round and 31-7 overall.
The last provincial celebration for the Cardinals was 2006.
“We’re competitive in all the divisions this year and we’re extremely excited about that,” Ewasiuk said. “The peewees certainly have a great chance to go forward to nationals. It’s the same with the midgets. It's one of their banner years. And all the bantams have to do is get past Okotoks and they’re on their way too.”
Good to go
While the boys of summer gear up for provincials, work behind the scenes continues to ensure Legion park is immaculate.
“Our volunteers have just stood on their heads to start preparing for provincials. There is a lot of activity going on and a lot of excitement. We’ve just built a new press box for the mosquito diamond over the weekend,” Ewasiuk said. “This year we probably have the best field crew that we’ve ever had. The guys have really worked hard. All the fields are in excellent condition right now and the rain certainly helped that out along the way.”
SAMBA has also addressed the thorny issue of parking. This weekend the parking lot will be monitored so there is no overflow parking from the waterpark. SAMBA has also applied for a parking permit for the grass boulevards to create room for an extra 125 vehicles for next weekend.
“The parking is going to be very managed, especially for next weekend,” Ewasiuk said.
This is his sixth and last year as SAMBA’s president.
“I’m proud to be going out with a big bang here with SAMBA being able to host the three major provincials.”