ST. STEPHEN – The season for the St. Stephen Minor Baseball Association is now closed, having ended with a third zone championship in three attempts. Local teams played in the Recreational Division of the Saint John zone, and earlier this month, the 15U and 13U Tier II Sabres, coached by Danny Noddin and Ronnie McKeeman, brought home championships.

Jeff Dionne said the 13U Tier 1 Sabres, a team he coaches, won their division championship with a score of 12 to 7 in a decisive game against the Port City Blue Jays. This win allowed the Sabres to complete the double elimination playoff schedule with a record of 6-1. In order to earn first place, the team had to defeat the Port City Blue Jays in successive games.

“The playoffs followed a very productive regular season which saw the Sabres go 6 to 2, securing the 6th seed overall in the 11 team division,” said Dionne. “During the final game versus the Blue Jays, the Sabres got another solid pitching performance from Brad Acheson and Jack Huys to stymie the Blue Jays offence.”

Dionne said Acheson pitched “five strong innings”, only allowing four hits and striking out six players from the opposing team. Huys secured the win with two innings of relief, only allowing one hit and striking out five players. The Sabres had an early 8 to 0 lead after two inside-the-park home runs, both hit by Brylee Curran, the team’s main home run hitter, along with clutch RBI knocks by Bryce Fraser and Jackson Mahar. All three players finished with two hits.

“Graham Dow also chipped in with two hits, while Tyler Dionne had one knock for the winners.”

Dionne said six runs were given back during the third and fourth innings, but the Sabres managed to win out over the Blue Jays. He added that the Sabres had a strong defence during the win to “snuff out rallies”, with Dionne gettinga 4 to 3 double play early on. Samuel Curran secured the championship with a final run at home plate.

Dionne said the season for recreational baseball in St. Stephen was “unusually long” this year, lasting nearly four months from the first practice to the last game. He said the commitment of the players was outstanding during this entire time, with at least 12 to 13 players showing up for every practice and game.

“The dedication of the players showed through their improvement during the season, with key plays late in the year being the result of their attention to the finer details of practice,” said Dionne. “ Running the bases aggressively, working pitch counts, backing-up fielders and just putting the ball in play instead of striking out are things that don’t always show up in the scoresheet, but by the end of the season were common place for this group.”

Dionne said in addition to Acheson and Huys, the team had additional strong pitching from four other players, Dionne, Rees Woodside, Michael Emberley, and Brylee Curran. He also saw great improvement in the outfield, with Mahar, Fraser, Sam Curran, Lucas Thibodeau, Gabriel Comeau and Rowan Balcarras playing hard to back up bases and knock down balls. The infield was solid throughout the entire season.

“The time and effort put forth by the players, coaches and parents made this a very successful and enjoyable season for the team.”

sarigreen@stcroixcourier.caa