On July 18, 2016 the Bardo Athletics played their last Powerline Baseball League game at the Bardo Recreation Grounds and in team history. Due to a request from a local baseball fan, here is a look at that final game and final season of the Bardo Athletics.
The A’s would welcome the rival Ryley Rebels in a game of franchises at the opposite ends of the PBL standings. The Rebels would take the game handily with a 17-4 win in-front of an unusually small crowd in the Bardo bleachers. It was unfortunately anything but a storybook ending for the PBL’s longest tenured franchise.
The Rebels would go on to win the 2016 PBL Pennant with a 10-4 record (falling 2-0 to the Rosalind Athletics in the PBL Semi-Final) after the win in Bardo while the Athletics would fall to 4-10 on the season to finish 7th in the eight team league that year. It would be the third season in a row the Athletics would finish in second last place and miss the playoffs with a combined record of 10-31-1 over those final three seasons. The re-introduction of wood bats back into the PBL occurred for the 2009 season and during this time, a span of eight seasons, Bardo would post a record of 47-68-2 (.406) over 117 games. The Athletics would be in the playoffs from 2009-2013 but you would have to go all the way back to the 2009 PBL Championship series to find their last playoff win, a 5-4 game two win over the Leduc Milleteers at the Bardo Recreation Grounds (the Milleteers would go on to win game three 5-4 and their first of five PBL Championships). From 1997 until 2013 the Athletics had managed to make the playoffs fifteen times and included four trips to the PBL Championship (2001, 2006, 2008, 2009) and two PBL Championships, 2008 over the Camrose Roadrunners and the iconic curse breaking 2006 PBL Championship over the Armena Axemen.
As the old guard changed in Bardo, a community with limited access to minor baseball associations it seemed due to its rural location, the team struggled to fill out a roster for the last few seasons. Long-time players like Ray Lehman, Mike Leclaire, Ryan Olson, Ken Bragget, Ryan Stauffer and Chris Middlestat started to miss more and more games before some eventually retired completely. As is life in senior men’s sports. But the last few seasons of Bardo Athletics baseball was especially lean and the final game of the 2016 season was the disappointing cherry on top. The 2016 spring/summer would particularly cruel to the Athletics as a total of nine rainouts, perhaps some sort of PBL record for games postponed in a season, which prevented the team from getting any momentum early on in the season. The A’s would play on May 17 and win against the Beaumont Angels, but due to the weather would not get back on to the field until June 7.
Bardo Athletics Final Season
Lost 5-2 at Rosalind Athletics – May 14
Won 11-8 vs Beaumont Angels – May 17
PPD at Camrose Roadrunners – May 19
PPD at Ryley Rebels – May 24
PPD vs Leduc Milleteers – May 26
PPD vs Holden Blue Jays – May 31
PPD at Armena Royals – June 2
Lost 7-1 at Holden Blue Jays – June 7
Lost 14-3 vs Rosalind Athletics – June 9
PPD vs Leduc Milleteers – June 11
Won 13-0 vs Camrose Roadrunners – June 14
Lost 12-1 at Beaumont Angels – June 16
PPD at Leduc Milleteers – June 21
PPD vs Armena Royals – June 23
Lost 11-1 vs Holden Blue Jays – June 27
Lost 8-2 vs Leduc Milleteers – June 28
Lost 9-7 vs Leduc Milleteers – June 28
PPD vs Ryley Rebels – June 30
Won 9-3 vs Camrose Roadrunners – July 4
Lost 10-4 at Ryley Rebels – July 5
Lost 6-4 at Armena Royals – July 12
Won 3-1 vs Armena Royals – July 14
Lost 17-4 vs Ryley Rebels – July 18
Monday July 18, 2016 – Bardo Recreation Grounds
Ryley Rebels – 17
Bardo Athletics – 4
Bardo Athletics Lineup
- Rob Berrecloth
- Jeremy Copeland
- Joel Hendrickson
- Dustin Huebert
- Dane McCarty
- Craig Neufeld
- Peter Neufeld
- Shaye Yoder
(Unfortunately the full Bardo Athletics lineup was never recorded, but they did have at least nine players)
Ryley Rebels Lineup
- Tom Shulba – SS
- Corey Epp – LF/P
- Kevin Reinholt -1B
- Shawn Pilgaard – 3B
- Kris Kushnerick – CF
- Craig Koughan – C
- Brian Tavaroli – 2B
- Josh McDonald – RF
- Tyler Helgeland – P/LF
The pitching matchup to start the game was lefty Dane McCarty for the Athletics and young right hander Tyler Helgland for the Rebels.
The Rebels put the game away in the top of the first inning by scoring seven runs on only five hits as McCarty would struggle to find the strike zone. Tom Shulba would lead the game off by getting hit by a pitch, a sign of things to come for the Rebels, and Kevin Reinholt would load the bases by getting hit by a pitch two batters loaded. With the bases loaded and one out, Kris Kushnerick would walk to make it 1-0 and catcher (yes catcher) Craig Koughan would clear the bases with a double to the left centre gap scoring Epp, Reinholt and Kushnerick to make it 4-0 with only one out in the inning. Brian Tavaroli would score Koughan with a RBI single and with two out Shulba would drive in runs five and six in the inning with a two RBI single. The Rebels would load the bases again after Reinholt would be hit for the second time in the inning before the Athletics would finally get out of the inning. Nine of the first ten Rebel hitters would reach safely.
To add to the Athletics miserable start, Rebels pitcher Tyler Helgeland came out and would get the A’s 1-2-3 in the home half of the first inning.
The second inning wouldn’t be as big for the Rebels as the first inning. Ryley would only be able to muster six runs this inning. Kushnerick would lead off the inning with a single before McCarty would walk Koughan, Tavaroli and hit his fourth batter of the game to load the bases. After Rebels right fielder Josh McDonald would get hit, McCarty’s night would come to an end and trotting in from first base was player/manager Craig Neufeld. Neufeld would give up a two RBI single off the bat of Helgeland to make it 10-0 Rebels before hitting Shulba one batter later bringing the total up to five hit Rebels through the first nineteen plate appearances. A Corey Epp sacrifice fly and a two out, two RBI double by Shawn Pilgaard would put the Rebels up 13-0 and for the second inning in a row, Ryley would bat through their lineup.
Once again, Helgeland would come out throwing very well for the Rebels allowing only a walk in a quick bottom of the second inning.
With the Rebels in full station to station mode to start the third inning, they would load the bases on back to back to back singles from Koughan, Tavaroli and McDonald. The game would become a 14-0 Rebels lead when Helgeland would reach via the first error of the game, charged to Athletics shortstop Dustin Huebert. A RBI fielder’s choice by Epp and a RBI single from Reinholt extended the lead to 16-0 and would cap the scoring off for the Rebels in the top of the third.
In the home half of the inning the Athletics would finally show some life with the bats in their second time through the order. The lead off hitter would earn a walk from Helgeland and a single from Joel Hendrickson would give the A’s their first runner in scoring position of the night. Rightfielder Jeremy Copeland would connect on a Helglenad offering for a RBI single to make it 16-1 Rebels with one out in the third. After Helgeland would get Rob Berrecloth to fly out for the second out of the inning, the Neufeld brothers would hit back to back RBI singles to trim the Rebels lead to 16-3.
Craig Neufeld would pitch the cleanest inning of the night for the A’s in the top of the fourth. With one out he would load the bases issuing a walk to Koughan, a single to Tavaroli and a walk to McDonald. The lone run of the inning would happen when with two outs Tom Shulba would get hit for the third time in the game to bring home the seventeenth and final run for the Rebels. That would give the Rebels a total of six hit batters over four innings, all left handed hitters.
Now 17-3 the A’s would not be able to use the fourth inning to mount a comeback. Helgeland would get the first two hitters quickly but would lose number nine hitter Joel Hendrickson on a strikeout-wild pitch to keep the inning going. Unfortunately the A’s couldn’t capitalize as the lead off hitter for Bardo would ground into an inning ending fielder’s choice.
The fifth inning was the best inning for the A’s on the mound with young right hander Dustin Huebert getting the ball. Huebert would get Reinholt and Pilgaard to start the inning before picking up the seventh hit batter of the game for the Athletics when he would hit Kushnerick with the first pitch of the at bat.
In the bottom of the sixth the ball would go to Corey Epp to get an inning of work in as the Rebels prepared to take on the Rosalind Athletics in the PBL Semi-Finals. Jeremy Copeland would greet Epp with a lead off single that would eventually turn into a run as Craig Neufeld would hit his second RBI single of the night to make it 17-4. After a one out walk to Peter Neufeld, Epp would end the game by fielding a comeback shot that would turn into a game ending 1-6-3 double play.
That was it. Just like that the last Bardo Athletics game came to a close. The last time the Ryley Rebels and the Bardo Athletics would face each other on the field. It was all done. That offseason, as both teams faced a roster crunch for the upcoming 2017 season, it was decided that the Rebels and the Athletics would merge to become the Tofield Braves. It was probably for the best that the team decided on a new name as with the Sherwood Park Athletics joining the PBL in 2017, I am not sure if the league could have managed a seven team league with three of the teams (Bardo, Rosalind, Sherwood Park) being called the Athletics. The PBL would lose its most storied franchise. Maybe at some point down the road we will see baseball in Bardo again as the Camrose and Tofield Minor Baseball Associations continue to grow.
Below are some images of the Bardo Athletics in action over the years.