September 18th, 2019

Hatters fall to open divisional championships

By DALE WOODARD on July 12, 2019.

LETHBRIDGE HERALD PHOTO IAN MARTENS
Lethbridge's third baseman Bowen Weaver and runner Medicine Hat's Chayse Lefler look for the call during action Thursday afternoon in the Alberta Little League Intermediate Divisional Championships at Atso Towaawa Park.

sports@lethbridgeherald.com

Talk about good timing.

The Lethbridge Intermediate AAA Bisons opened the Little League Intermediate Divisional Championships with an 11-0, five inning win over Medicine Hat as the three – and possibly four-day – tournament took the field Thursday afternoon at Atso Towaawa Park.

The Bisons jumped out to a 6-0 lead after two innings and tacked on two more in the fourth and three in the fifth to kick the five-inning, 10-run rule into effect.

On the mound, Lethbridge pitcher Troy Gallant went the full five innings, striking out five and walking one.

The host Bisons will look to keep their strong play intact as the tournament heads into the weekend portion, and Bisons head coach Denny Puszkar noted his team’s ability to put it all together at just the right time.

“Honestly, it probably could not have gone any better for us,” he said. “I think that’s maybe the most complete game we’ve had all year. Every aspect of that game, we pitched very well and Troy was outstanding on the bump. We hit it like crazy, a couple of home runs, we ran the bases well and our defence was spectacular as well. You add those things up and I like our chances. The boys just came ready to go and I’m really proud of them.

“It’s huge for us, it sets us up really well. A lot of energy in the first inning really helps, too. It just gets the kids go in and really into the game. It was a fantastic start.”

After some losing results to Medicine Hat earlier this season, the Bisons grabbed the key decision and look to keep it going today when they take on Calgary West at 11:30 a.m. and Edmonton Community Park at 5:30 p.m. to complete the round-robin. All games this weekend are at Atso Towaawa Park.

“It’s exciting because we didn’t beat them the last three or four times we played them,” said Bisons second baseman and left fielder Tristan Oriold. “It was really big because our team wasn’t that happy at the start to play them and we got hotter and hotter as we hit more and more.”

After Thursday’s shutout loss, Medicine Hat looks to regroup today as the team plays Edmonton Community Park at 8:30 a.m. and Calgary West at 2:30 p.m.

“It was definitely not the star we were looking for,” said head coach Travis Tuchscherer. “The first game of the tournament, the players were maybe a little nervous. It’s only one game and we’re looking to bounce back for games two and three.

“We just tell them to have a short memory. We’ll try our best to get those games tomorrow and hopefully we can get back in, win two games tomorrow and take care of business on the weekend.”

Medicine Hat has a little experience on their side as they look to get into the win column today in the four-team round-robin with the top-two teams advancing to the final on Saturday at 11 a.m.

“We have a few guys with some experience from Canadians and Majors a few years ago,” said Tuchscherer. “We’ll rely on them to bounce back, be our leaders and take us through.”

Meanwhile, the Bisons gear up for Calgary in a late-morning showdown today.

“They’re a good opponent, too,” said Puszkar. “We expect them to hit the ball really well. Honestly, it’s (one) game at a time. We still have to perform and compete and do all of those things we’ve been preaching throughout the year. We’ll see how it goes.”

The championship series is a best-of-three with the winner of the round-robin game between the finalists counting as Game 1. If necessary, Game 3 will go on Sunday at 11 a.m.

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