Harry Andreassen Field was once again the setting for the 17th Annual All-Star Challenge between the Battle River Baseball League and the Powerline Baseball League. While 40 kilometers down the road the Powerline Baseball League Championship was being settled, pride was on the line in Camrose.
Lance Zimmer took to the mound for the Powerline League to start the game, though he didn’t stay there very long. Zimmer needed just five pitches to make it out of the top half of the first inning. The PBL All-stars were able to strike first on this muggy August night as Zimmer had the first hit of the evening and fellow Camrose Roadrunner Josh Banack was able to work a walk. Both eventually scored on a Corey Epp single. The PBL offence sputtered from there.
The second inning was off to an auspicious start as leadoff hitter Damon Zimmer was hit by a pitch from Lance Zimmer. Zimmer, Damon that is, managed to make it home after a couple of errors up the middle. Zimmer, Lance this time, managed to get out of the inning though by striking out the bottom of the Battle River order. Meanwhile the Powerline All-stars went quietly in the second; three up, three down.
Eric Zimmer, there were a lot of Zimmer’s in this incarnation of the All-Star Challenge, started off the fourth inning with a solid single to right field. Zimmer would score the tying run on a Matt Stebner double. Greg Dalueg would drive in Stebner for the lead with a one out single. Lance Zimmer would strike out Blayd Anholt to end the Battle River threat in the third. Graham Zimmer would retire the Powerline All-stars in order in the bottom half of the fourth inning with two strikeouts and an Epp comebacker.
The wheels began to come off for the Powerline League in the fifth inning as a couple of infield errors opened the door for the Battle River All-stars to walk right through. Graham Zimmer started the inning off with a single, Brennan Anholt was able to reach base on an error at short and a double from Damon Zimmer brought them both home. Matt Stebner tripled to bring home Zimmer but was stranded at third as Trent Steil struck out and Greg Dalueg ground out to end the threat. Graham Zimmer once again worked a quick inning in the bottom of the fifth retiring the bottom third of the PBL lineup in order.
With the Battle River League up 6-2, Corey Epp took over on the mound for the Powerline League in the sixth inning. Epp was able to strike out Dean Brodie to start the sixth but then issued a couple of free passes to Graham Zimmer and Brennan Anholt. Damon Zimmer tripled to plate Zimmer and Anholt. Zimmer was brought home on a single by Eric Zimmer to increase the BRBL lead to 9-2. After a Matt Stebner single, Trent Steil stepped into the batters box and promptly cleared the bases with a three run homerun over the right field fence. As the sun began to set in the background of Harry Andreassen Field, so did the hopes for the Powerline League as they trailed 12-2 after six innings.
All remained quiet for both teams until the bottom of the eighth inning when Lance Zimmer and Josh Banack started a mini rally for the Powerline League. Zimmer walked, Banack dropped a bloop single and Luke Ryan doubled to plate Zimmer. Banack would score on a ball in the dirt to make it 12-4. Ryan came around to touch home thanks to a Craig Koughan single. The rally though was cut short as the bottom third of the lineup were unable to reach base.
Trailing 12-5 in the bottom of the ninth, the PBL was looking for one more rally to make things close. They had to deal with Dean Brodie who came on to finish things off for the Battle River League. Brodie struck out catcher Colten Craig to lead off the last half of the ninth. Lance Zimmer patiently worked a walk, Josh Banack struck out looking but then the bat of Luke Ryan came into play again. Ryan, just like he did in the eighth inning, laced a double which scored Zimmer who had moved to second on defensive indifference. With the score 12-6, Chris Koughan flied out to left to end the game and close the book on another All-Star Challenge.
Following the game and handshakes, members of the Andreassen family handed out the Challenge trophy to the triumphant Battle River Baseball League. A new tradition was started this year as Matt Stebner received the inaugural Doug Wolbeck Memorial MVP trophy. Stebner finished the night going 3 for 6 with a walk. Stebner was a homerun shy of a cycle.
While many from the Powerline League hoped for a closer score, neither team could hope for a better night for baseball. The warm August evening under the lights of Harry Andreassen Field saw the final game of the year for most of us, thankfully the ball park will welcome us back with open arms next spring.