Bantam Sabres dominate on home field - Aug. 20, 2014
Riley Russell applies the tag and makes the out at home plate during the first inning of Saturday's championship game.
The St. Stephen bantam Sabres scored 60 runs in four games – the maximum allowed before mercy – this past weekend, earning a berth in the single A provincial tournament in Tracadie in two weeks.
Playing host at the Rod Wilson field to teams from Sussex, KV and Sackville, the Sabres outscored their opponents 60-10. Their biggest challenge all weekend was the weather.
In Sunday afternoon’s championship game against KV – a game the Sabres won 15-0 – rain started to fall following the completion of the first inning and came and went as the game progressed. Luckily for the Sabres, and sticking to the script they wrote in the first three round-robin games, the team piled up eight first inning runs, putting the game out of reach before the weather could have an impact.
Going into the weekend, St. Stephen had registered success against two of the three teams in the four-team regional tournament, but not quite like this.
“The thing is, you look back at it and I’m surprised,” said a proud Peter Lindsay, the team’s head coach. “We played against those teams over the last few years and four or five years ago we were losing.”
In the first three round-robin games, the Sabres pitchers gave up just seven hits while the offence contributed 16.
Harley Johnson went 3-3 in Sunday’s championship-winning game, driving in three runs. Dawson Hatt went 2-2 with a two RBIs and Connor Lindsay scored a pair of runs.
“They waited for the pitches that they wanted to hit,” Lindsay explained of his team’s patient mentality at the plate.
The Sabres had a pair of Calais players in its lineup over the weekend – Greg Mitchell and Riley Russell. Both contributed immensely, with Mitchell pitching in the championship game and Russell behind the plate.
“That’s the future of baseball in the towns (St. Stephen and Calais); numbers dwindle as time goes on so that’s what we’re going to have to do,” Lindsay explained.
Both players added to an already impressive roster that has been improved so much so that Lindsay now anticipates the team will, at some point in the next three years, move up a division to play AA. This weekend, for instance, players will pick up experience hosting a doubleheader against Oromocto on Saturday and a doubleheader against Chatham Head on Sunday.
The four games will not only give the team a feel of how it stacks up against higher competition, but allow the boys to play some tougher opponents in preparation for a second provincial title.
“That’s the goal; I wouldn’t predict it because we don’t know what we’re going to see, but we exceeded expectations this weekend and we’re confident,” stressed Lindsay.
The Sabres will leave for provincials in Tracadie Aug. 29.