Spending time at both Tier IV and Tier III in Baseball Alberta playdowns, the team was pushed up to Tier II for provincials in Whitecourt this past weekend and proved they more than belonged by earning the silver medal.
It was a mere one bad inning that sunk the Vikings’ longboat to golden waters in an otherwise solid run that saw the team conclude its season with an impressive 17-1 record including playdowns.
Vikings’ game MVP Hunter Johnson pitched deep into the championship final into the sixth inning when disaster struck as the teams were in a tight 2-2 contest at the time of the implosion.
“What happened was he walked a couple of guys and we switched pitchers and then a couple of bloop hits. Then we made a couple of errors and by the end of the sixth inning we were down 9-2,” said Jim Odland, head coach of the Vauxhall Vikings bantam baseball team which eventually fell 12-5 in the championship. “We had two walks, we hit one guy, we screwed up a bunt defence. It was just a one-inning deal that cost us. We hadn’t lost all year, it was just one bad inning in the wrong game that made the wrong-coloured medal.”
Vikings started off its provincial run with a 5-1 win over host Whitecourt thanks to a solid pitching performance by Joel Dalton. Jayden Bexte was the Vikings’ MVP for the game.
“Joel only gave up a couple of hits with a few walks. We were pretty solid for most of the tournament defensively helping our pitchers out,” said Odland. “Jayden had a really good weekend with the bat. He hit over .600, he was our best hitter on the weekend.”
Already knowing they would own a tie-breaker in round-robin play with three-team pools, the Vikings threw out an array of pitchers with 35-pitch counts and still managed an 11-6 over Strathmore. The move was made to maximize pitching options when the playoff round began to make sure every arm was available. Reed Odland was Vikings’ MVP for the game, pitching three scoreless innings to go along with two hits.Vikings made their way to the gold-medal final by dispatching Northeast 14-4. Blaise Unruh tossed a complete game and earned MVP honours. Overall a very impressive season for the Vikings who saw contributions right down the hitting and pitching line ups.
“I don’t think there was any baseball team that was a better team, it was just one bad inning,” said Odland.
“For coming together as a late entry into Baseball Alberta, I thought we played very well. This season far exceeded my expectations. They were a good group of kids who worked hard and listened and played well. It was a good group to coach.”
Vauxhall Vikings bantam baseball team consisted of players Blaise Unruh, Jayden Bexte, Brandyn Howg, Hunter Johnson, Brant Mack, Dakota Huddlestun, Joel Dalton, Reed Odland, Darian Simmons and Marshal Enns along with coaching staff Jim Odland, Brendan Odland, Bryce Howg and Willie Huddlestun.