One title down, one to go

Matthew
Matthew Gourlie
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The Moose Jaw Canucks won a title Sunday.

They hope it will help them win the one they really want next weekend.

The Canucks hosted the Saskatchewan Premier Baseball League's bottom half playoffs and came away winners thanks to a 12-6 win over Weyburn in the final. The Canucks finished in the top-half of the SPBL's Midget AA standings, but had already agreed to host the playoffs for the teams in the bottom half of the league.

"We did what we should have done this weekend," said Canucks head coach Kevin Smith. "Having said that, you still have go out and pitch well, play defence and hit the ball. I thought we did that very well this weekend."

The Canucks will attend the Saskatchewan Baseball Association's Midget AA provincials in Yorkton starting on Friday. 

"When we were asked to host (the SPBL playoffs) we were in seventh or eighth place and then we went on a bit of a tear and ended up sixth, but a lot of those teams (at provincials) don't know us. We played them early in the year," said Smith. "We might surprise a few people there and being a bit of an underdog isn't a bad thing. We'll take that."

They definitely weren't the underdogs this past weekend.

They beat the Assiniboia Aces 11-1 to open the tournament and followed that with a 17-3 win over Weyburn.

They got a scare in the playoffs, but beat the Aces 5-4 and then beat the White Butte Broncos 7-2 in the semifinal.

The Canucks had won nine straight games and were unbeaten in 10 before dropping their final two SPBL league games. The weekend was a return to form.

"We started another streak, I guess, we were 5-0 on the weekend," said Smith. "Everybody has to be feeling pretty good about themselves. We swung the bats very well and I think we're peaking at the right time. Those two losses at the end of the year may have been a little bit of a wake-up call. We're playing with excitement and enthusiasm and it's good to see."

With the exception of their close win against Assiniboia, the Canucks were hitting the ball hard all weekend and got production from their entire lineup.

"We've been hitting the ball well since the middle of June. The other thing that's coming is our focus. That's been really good," said Smith. "The bottom end of the order has been getting some hits and the top end has been doing what they're supposed to be doing. That's just great to see.

Canucks 12 Beavers 6

The Canucks scored four in the second and four in the fifth as they built a 9-2 lead.

Matt Evans hit a two-run single and Wyatt Riendeau hit a two-run triple in the next at-bat to give the Canucks a 5-0 lead in the second inning.

Riley Morhart hit a double in the second inning and Kaleb Wilson and Payton Denet each drove in runs in the fifth.

Evans was 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs.

Kaleb Wilson earned the win with a complete game which saw him allow nine hits over his seven innings of work.

Canucks 7 Broncos 2

The Canucks scored four runs in the first to build a comfortable lead.

Evans, Mike Blazeiko and Cody Robbins each hit RBI singles in the first inning. Jordan Logan stole a pair of bases for the Canucks who had five stolen bases in the game.

"Jordan Logan has been our heart and soul. He caught all five games this weekend in the heat. If we can follow his lead throughout provincials we should be good," said Smith.

Robbins and Evans were both 2-for-3 at the plate and Blazeiko finished with two RBI.

Aiden Coleman allowed two runs off of six hits in 6 1/3 innings, he also struck out seven batters to earn the win.

Canucks 5 Aces 4

It was an odd walk-off, but the Canucks were happy to take it.

With the bases loaded Kagan Meier was hit by a pitch to bring Logan around to score the winning run.

For once the Canucks bats were quiet as they only managed one hit in the first five innings. Meier and Riendeau hit consecutive doubles to get a rally going in the sixth and both came around to score. In the seventh Kyle Wilson had a lead-off walk and Logan walked for the fourth time on the day. Kaleb Wilson loaded the bases and Evans fouled off a couple of pitches before getting a walk to tie the game on a full count before Meier was hit while facing two strikes.

Morhart earned the win as he pitched the final four innings after Meier allowed two runs and there hits over three innings.

The Canucks will be in Pool B with the Beavers, Regina White Sox, Saskatoon Braves and North East Red Sox.

The top two teams in each pool will advance to the semifinals.

The Canucks finished ahead of Regina and Weyburn in the SPBL standings and beat both this weekend. The North East Red Sox were 16-2 on the season and will be a tough foe, but Smith is fairly happy with their pool.

"North East will be tough, but I think we have a pretty good pool. We have an opportunity," said Smith. 

Swift Current is hosting westerns which could provide an opportunity for the team that finishes second at provincials a chance to advance if Swift Current also advances to the final.

 

Organizations: Canucks, Saskatchewan Premier Baseball League, Saskatchewan Baseball Association Red Sox White Sox

Geographic location: Weyburn, Yorkton, North East Swift Current Saskatoon

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