The Armena Royals crazily entered the Heisler Cardinals tournament thanks to an over-ambitious Jason Buzzell who had a weekend pass to go camp in the small village.
Luckily for Buzzell, some Royals with ties to the area, like Cole Tomaszewski, the Sherbaniuk brothers, Landon Miller and a couple call-ups from the Bawlf Midget team, as well as Camrose Roadrunners Josh Banack and Cody Sroka, band-aided a team together and fought a valiant effort in Sunday losses to Rosalind and Spring Lake respectively (Much thanks to the Bawlf Midget call-ups and the Roadrunner duo, as well as the core Royals who made it).
Heisler Cardinals 9 – Armena Royals 0
Armena Royals 8 – Castor Raiders 1
Rosalind A’s 7 – Armena Royals 4
Spring Lake Lakers 3 – Armena Royals 1
Buzzell called his own number in the Saturday morning contest with the host Heisler Cardinals, and he looked in mid-20s form for the first three innings. But the Cardinals made hay in the fourth after a couple early errors, followed by a devastating bases-clearing double off the bat of senior citizen and third baseman Dave Wolbeck, who along with Lorne Schulte, combined for more than 70 years of baseball experience whilst the kids overslept after a fun Friday night. The six-run inning helped the Cardinals mercy the Royals after five 9-0.
The short-staffed Royals then tapped knuckleballer Ian Sherbaniuk for the 1 p.m. start against the Castor Raiders. After seeing Cody Walbeck mow them down in the morning tilt, the Royals went to town in the top of the first, pounding out 8 runs on a dozen hits. Sherbaniuk’s knuckle was dancing as he dealt to the aging Buzzell behind the plate, appearing in his first catching gig since 1996. Sherbaniuk shut the door, only giving up one unearned run enroute to his third win of the season in another five-inning ball game, 8-1.
That threw the Royals up against the Rosalind A’s, winners of Pool A, and talk in the beer garden Saturday night was how the Royals didn’t belong in the playoffs. That was quickly put to rest when Landon Miller took the hill and the young Royals started giving the Athletics all they could handle as Cole Tomaszewski and Ian Sherbaniuk managed their first game as a tired Buzzell hesitantly went behind the plate for another few innings while Chad Samoisette’s wake-up call went unanswered for the first couple innings.
A couple errors and some clutch hitting by the Enrights staked Rosalind to an early 3-0 lead, before the Royals mounted a four-run fourth inning to take the lead. With the A’s reeling, they scratched out a run to tie the game on an absolutely horrendous call by base umpire and Heisler Cardinal Nolan Miller. Miller proved he is a much better pitcher than umpire as he called the Rosalind A safe even though he was out by about five feet, allowing the run to score from third and the inning continue with two outs.
Miller received a smattering of boos from the Spring Lake Zimmers who watched along the first baseline, and some choice words from the veteran Buzzell, before the crew pulled him in favour of some other Cardinals, who were all shaking the cobwebs out after a fun Saturday night in the beer gardens and around the fire. The A’s then put up a three-spot to go ahead 7-4, and junk baller Steve Enright did his thing for the complete game victory.
Heisler likes their baseball, so why not play another? A third place game against those very Zimmers.
A slow start was witnessed by those in attendance, as only Mickey Heisler could make this tilt seem exciting from the broadcast booth as he belted out wan-wans all day long – making up for his faux pas of calling the Royals, the Armena Axemen on Saturday.
Both teams ached their way into the game with Sam Johnson getting the ball for Spring Lake, while the Royals were going to pitch by committee, giving the ball to a much-eager Cody Sroka for the first half. Sroka mixed and matched as errors once again cost the Royals three runs – story of the weekend – and the bats went dead in a 3-1 loss. Zenan Sherbaniuk in centre field caught about 27 balls on the weekend, including a highlight reel catch in game one versus Heisler and another in this game versus the Zimmers. Ian Sherbaniuk looked solid again in the final 3 ⅓ as he hoped for, but didn’t get his fourth win of the season.
Luckily for the six regulars in attendance, Tuesday night is off for the boys in blue, while they gear up for a Thursday tilt in Ryley. Game time 7 p.m. at the Ryley Sports Grounds.