Despite hosting the Baseball Alberta Single-A Bantam Tier 1 Provincials on relatively short notice, Fort St. John and the North Peace Black Sox Baseball Association couldn’t have done a better job.
The tournament featured three days of highly competitive games between North Peace, the Wainwright Nationals, the Plamondon Mustangs and the Lacombe Dodgers, from July 19 to 21. Plamondon won the championship, after hanging on to beat Wainwright 8-7 in a very close final.
“I’m super excited with how this weekend went. It’s a win-win for baseball in Fort St. John. There were lots of people here who had never been before, and we had lots of local fans out who have no kids or family playing baseball,” said North Peace Minor Baseball President Forrest Liddicoat.
The Mustangs had an 8-2 lead over Wainwright going into the sixth inning, but surrendered five runs in the bottom of the sixth. In the seventh, they hung on for the win, capping the tournament with catcher Dawson Plamondon’s throw to third base to catch a Nationals player stealing.
“We had a great time here this weekend. The hosts did a really good job and the games were extremely competitive,” said Mustangs Head Coach Steven Reid. “We are a really small town, but this age group has really good dedicationand practiced a lot. They did a lot of the things we worked on all season long and it paid off.”
The North Peace Black Sox were almost in the final game themselves. After a tough opening game against Wainwright, which saw the Black Sox forfeit the game in the third inning due to a costly mistake (an illegal player was in the game lineup), the team bounced back with a huge 5-4 over Plamondon on Saturday, followed by a 7-4 win over Lacombe. The win over Plamondon was the Mustang’s only loss of the tournament.
After the round robin, North Peace, Wainwright and Plamondon were all tied at 2-1. The Mustangs advanced to the final via tie breaker, while North Peace and Wainwright squared off in the semifinal Sunday morning in a rematch of the forfeited opener.
Despite coming back to tie the game 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth, the Black Sox ultimately lost 10-4 as a result of a rough seventh inning. Still, it was a great showing for a Black Sox team at home that showed it was as good as the top provincial competition.
“Considering how things shook out after that first game, the team could have gotten down on themselves, but they battled hard. A great job by the team and coaching staff to hang in there and show what we’re made of,” Liddicoat said.
Pitcher Dillon Neufeld was one of the stars of the tournament for North Peace, especially in his 95-pitch performance in the win over Plamondon.
“I felt really good, the arm felt nice today, and this was a good win for us,” Neufeld said. “The crowds have been great and I’m super happy that we got to play in the provincials at home.”
Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at firstname.lastname@example.org.