The next best thing to going to nationals is a trip to westerns for the bantam AAA St. Albert Cardinals.
Last year’s Baseball Alberta Tier I champions fell short of a provincial repeat in Sunday’s 12-3 loss to the host Okotoks Dawgs Black in the tournament final.
Westerns start Aug. 18 for the Cardinals in Kamloops and Okotoks will represent Alberta at the U15 nationals later this month in Summerside, P.E.I.
Last year the Cardinals finished fourth at nationals.
At provincials the Cardinals lost the tournament opener 23-7 to Okotoks before stringing wins together by scores of 5-4 over Calgary Cubs Blue, 9-7 against the Fort McMurray Oil Giants and 9-1 in the semifinal against the South Jasper Place Jays as Brayden Michetti threw a gem while going the distance.
The top eight finishers in the Baseball Alberta league competed at provincials and they were as follows: Okotoks (31-3), Calgary (25-10), South Jasper Place (25-9), Parkland Twins (25-8), Cardinals (24-9), Sherwood Park Athletics (15-19), Calgary Junior Dinos 11-18) and Fort McMurray (8-27).
The Cardinals’ roster consists of four returning players.
The road to a midget AA provincial three-peat for the St. Albert Cardinals ended in Sunday’s semifinal in Spruce Grove.
The 6-5 loss to the Lacombe Dodgers at the Tier I championship was an up and down affair for the Cardinals, ranked No. 1 in the eight-team tournament.
The tying run was on third base in the seventh but the Cardinals were unable to even the score.
The Cardinals reached the playoff round with wins of 10-5 against the Whitecourt Angels and 12-1 against the Parkland Twins before losing 6-3 to the Leduc-based Black Gold Giants in pool play.
Leduc beat Lacombe for a berth at the U18 westerns next month in Kamloops.
The Cardinals, last year’s western champions and 2015 silver medallists, were 16-2 in the Baseball Alberta league and 25-8-2 overall entering provincials.
The roster featured four players from last year’s 50-6-1 team.