Armena Wins 2018 Championship

In front of a standing room only crowd at Anniversary Park in Armena, the hometown Royals defeated the Leduc Milleteers 8-5 to be crowned Powerline Baseball League Champions. It was a thrilling game three victory for the Royals who bring the fourth PBL title to Armena as the white and blue (1984, 2002 and 2015) and sixth overall counting the 2003 and 2004 PBL titles by the Armena Axemen.

The pitching matchup for the third and final game of the Championship Series was Kirk Smith of the Leduc Milleteers and Doug Morris for the Royals. Smith was the game one starter and winner for the Milleteers while Morris picked up a relief win in game two for Armena. Game one went to the Milleteers 8-5 at Anniversary Park with game two a couple days later that ended up 6-4 in favour of the Royals to set up this game three.

Armena would start the scoring in the home half of the first inning. Pitcher Doug Morris would reach on a single up the middle followed by a walk to 2018 Harry Andreassen All Star Game MVP Luke Ryan. Catcher Sheldon Petryshyn would load the bases with a single that fell into no mans land between second, centre field and right field for the Milleteers. With the bases loaded Royals second basemen Liam Gregor would rip a double down the line to score Morris easily. It should have been two runs on the play but Ryan would miss third base and try to retreat back to tag up but get caught in the run down. With runners at second and third with two outs, first baseman Clark Banack would take Smith deep to left centre and over the head of Milleteers centre fielder Brendan Huber for a two RBI double and an early 3-0 lead.

Right handed pitcher and 2018 PBL All Star Doug Morris would attack the Milleteers and fill up the strike zone right from the first pitch. For the first four innings the only offence Leduc could muster were three singles. A two out single by catcher Alex McIntosh in the first inning, a one out single to left fielder Brad Engel in the third inning and a two out single off a fastball by Jon Anstey. The Milleteers were having no luck as Engel’s single could easily have been a double but the hard hit line drive would ricochet off the third base umpire for a single only. Morris would retire thirteen of the first sixteen hitters he would face giving his offence all the breathing room they would need to get after Smith.

In the home half of the second inning the Royals would extend their lead to 4-0 with some small ball. Short stop Devan Varga would hit a one out infield single ahead of lead off hitter Zenan Sherbaniuk’s sacrifice bunt to move the speedy Varga into scoring position. Morris would help his own cause with a RBI single to right field scoring Varga from second base for their fourth run of the night.

It was the bottom of the fourth inning that the Royals would put the game away and end Smith’s night. A lead off single by right fielder Dan Matushyk would be the Royals seventh hit off of Smith. The Milleteers right hander would get Varga swinging and Leduc third baseman Del Kruk would make a great falling play at third to rob Zenan Sherbaniuk of a sure bass hit. From the ground Kruk would get Matushyk at second but the Milleteers would have no chance at the speedy Sherbaniuk. It would prove costly for the Milleteers as the Royals would hit four two out singles and steal four bases to extend their lead to 7-0. Sherbaniuk would calmly steal second setting up a RBI single from Morris. Left fielder Luke Ryan would hit an infield single to the left side putting runners at first and second. Armena would pull off a double steal with Morris drawing a throw from Milleteers catcher Alex McIntosh to third. The throw would sail into left field allowing Morris to slide in at home for what would eventually turn into the game winning sixth run for the Royals. Petryshyn would hit a RBI single to score Ryan and Liam Gregor would hit another two out single and steal a base to put two more runners in scoring position. Smith would get Banack swinging to finally end the inning in what would be his final hitter he would face.

With the game 7-0 the Milleteers offence would finally get to Morris in the top of the fifth inning to make things interesting. Morris would get centre fielder Brendan Huber to ground out to second base for out number one. First baseman Steve Pahl would hit a Texas leaguer into left field before being lifted on the base paths in favour of Adam Pahl. Pahl would steal second and Brad Engel would earn a walk to put two runners on as the Royals bullpen started to stir. Short stop Mykel Ruptash would hit a hot shot at first baseman Clark Banack that would evade the veteran first baseman allowing the first Leduc run to cross the plate. Morris would get Milleteers second baseman Jon Anstey to ground out into a RBI for out number two as Ruptash would make it to third on the play. Then the Milleteers hit back to back to back doubles to make it a 7-5 game. Catcher Alex McIntosh would hit a ground rule double to the right centre fence to score Ruptash, first baseman Del Kruk would yank a ball down the right field line for a RBI double to score McIntosh and Kirk Smith would hit a deep fly ball off the fence in right centre to score Kruk. Three big time hits had the Milleteers back into the game.

With some life left in them, the Milleteers would turn to their bullpen with Chad Soucy first to get the call. The right hander wouldn’t allow a hit but would hit two Royals hitters with Daniel Matushyk wearing a curveball in the arm and Zenan Sherbaniuk being grazed by an inside pitch. Despite a couple of wild pitches and a Royals stolen base, Soucy would work out of the jam and get his offence back to it.

It appeared to be a frustrating night for the Milleteers pitchers who would battle the strike zone at times. In the bottom of the sixth inning the Milleteers would send Jon Anstey to pitch and try to hold the Royals for a chance to rally in the top of the seventh. Anstey would start the inning with back to back walks to Luke Ryan and Sheldon Petryshyn. A pair of passed balls would lead to an insurance run for the Royals as Ryan would score the eighth and final run of the night on a play that saw an Anstey fastball tip off McIntosh’s glove and back to the screen. Visibly upset, Anstey would hump up a fastball that rode in on first baseman Clark Banack, hitting him in the elbow. Anstey would however settle down and blow away third baseman David Ritz and pinch hitter Lyndon Galvin for back to back strikeouts to end the inning.

Unfortunately for the Milleteers the Royals would send Doug Morris back out to the mound to start the inning and it turned into two innings of shut down ball from the right hander. Morris would retire six of the final seven Leduc hitters to earn his second game three victory of these playoffs, this time for the PBL Championship.

Pitcher Doug Morris celebrates with catcher Sheldon Petryshen

The Championship win for the Royals is their second in the last four seasons and this Championship Series was their third over the same time span. The 2018 edition of the Armena Royals were a vastly improved team from the 2017 Armena Royals which saw them finish 3-11 and in sixth place. This season the Royals would lead the PBL Standings from the beginning of the season right to the end. The only blemishes were losses to the expansion Camrose Axemen and Edmonton Expos and a loss to the Holden Blue Jays which ended their unbeaten streak at eight games, the third longest unbeaten streak to start a season in league history.

Congratulations to the Armena Royals! 2019 Opening Day in the PBL is only ten months away.

Back (LtoR): Clark Banack, Daniel Matushyk, Ian Sherbaniuk, Kellan Morris, Landon Miller, Liam Gregor, Lyndon Galvin, Derek Stollery
Front (LtoR): David Ritz, Devan Varga, Sheldon Petryshen, Doug Morris, Luke Ryan, Zenan Sherbaniuk


Posted in Armena Royals, Leduc Milleteers, PBL

Crowning Achievement for Young Royals

Give way to your opponent; thus will you gain the crown of victory.

2018 Armena Royals ChampsMuch of the 2015 ballad to the Royals cited the many years of heartache and old-man lamenting it took to rise from the ashes. This year. It’s all about the boys. Now men.

They wear a crown like ’84, ’02 and ’15 did. But as this group is connected as ever to the past, they’ve begun their own (hi)story.

That began with one of the best starts in Armena men’s baseball history at 8-0 before, as so often happens, they stumbled against the Holden Blue Jays and Edmonton Expos to fall to 8-2. Along that 8-0 run, veteran Clark Banack, the lone survivor connected to the modern day Royals rebirth, said, “There’s something about this team Buzz. I don’t know what is is. But you can just sense it.”

Those prophetic words rose true as the team bounced back with a couple wins before finishing in first place, which this year meant a lot with the 4 vs. 5 playoff game. But the road wasn’t easy. The Royals would become the first team since the 2008 Bardo Athletics to go 2-1, 2-1 in the playoffs enroute to a PBL Championship.

Unlike past Royal teams, they split the playoff rotation up amongst three hurlers. Ian Sherbaniuk. Lyndon Galvin. And Doug “Big Game” Morris. The team going 1-1, 1-1 and 2-0 in those starts respectively, putting to rest this authors worries in June about the rotation he uttered to a veteran of the Rosalind Athletics.

But the big story to help that was the offence. An average of more than six runs per game in the playoffs and almost nine in the season. The bats of Zenan Sherbaniuk, Luke Ryan, Morris and a few others reigned supreme and carried the load. But as much as this was a “future is now” moment, there was Clark Banack, chipping in RBIs, hitting .350 during the season, and doing so with a hand-made bat from a lathe in off the coast of Irricana.

All that said, it was sweet justice for the team, only a handful remaining, for the franchise that could have used a seven-run lead in 2012. They only spotted a two-run lead that year before the always pesky Milleteers, who had yet to lose a final until this year (now 5-1), came back. They came back this year, but it was that offence that paved the way to victory.

With the Milleteer back. The Royals on top. And the A’s, Expos, Braves and Roadrunners resting, these new Royals can savor a home win. Their first since 2002 (and 2004) and be on the look out for next year.

Posted in Armena Royals, Buzzilinear, PBL

PBL Blasts BRBL in 2018 All Star Game

The nearly two decade old Harry Andreassen All Star Game between the Powerline Baseball League and the Battle River Baseball League was a landslide victory for the PBL on Sunday afternoon. The PBL would win 15-8 improving their record to 10-6-2 vs the BRBL since 2000. The fifteen runs scored by the PBL is the most by either either league since 2004 when the PBL defeated the BRBL 16-5.

Right out of the gate the PBL All Stars would dominate the BRBL with a 7 run top of the first against a Stettler pitcher. The first eight hitters of the game for the PBL would reach with RBI singles coming from Armena’s Doug Morris, Tofield’s Craig Neufeld and Holden’s Randall Ziegler. The big hit of the inning was a bases load double from Armena’s Luke Ryan scoring Vaughn Rempel and Sheldon Pederson. By the end of the inning the PBL All Stars has sent eleven hitters to the plate and it was quickly 7-0 PBL.

The BRBL All Stars would chip away in the bottom half of the first against the PBL starting pitcher from the Edmonton Expos, Gary LeBlanc. After a leadoff error LeBlanc would run into some trouble after a passed ball put the BRBL on the board. A one out RBI single to BRBL’s Jackson Berry would make it 7-2 before LeBlanc would load the bases with a walk to Brayden from the Amisk Oilers. LeBlanc would get out of the jam with a hard lineout off the bat of Stettler’s Jordan as Doug Morris would catch the hot shot and tag out Berry at second base on the play.

While the PBL was held off the board until the top of the fourth inning, the BRBL would add to their total in the bottom of the second inning. LeBlanc would walk the bases loaded with two out before hitting Brendan Anholt from Amisk to make it a 7-3 game.

It wasn’t until the top of the fourth when the PBL would score again. Once again it was lead off hitter Vaughn Rempel from the Edmonton Expos who would get things rolling for the PBL. After a single, his second of the game, Rempel would score when Leduc’s Alex McIntosh would drive him home with a single up the middle. The Royals’ first baseman Luke Ryan would would make it a 9-3 lead with a single to left field before McIntosh would make it 10-3 on a wild pitch and Ryan would score himself on a Dustin Huebert RBI ground out. Heading into the bottom of the fourth it was now 11-3 PBL.

Four more PBL insurance runs would get added in the top of the fifth inning as the first four hitters would reach base, all of whom would come in to score later in the inning. Holden’s Randall Ziegler led off the inning with a single up the middle ahead of Roadrunners’ Lance Zimmer reaching via error to the BRBL’s third baseman. Vaughn Rempel would collect his third and final base hit of the game with another single up the middle against the BRBL. Rosalind’s Sheldon Pederson would cash in Ziegler and Lance Zimmer with a two RBI single to left field, Camrose Axemen second baseman Zach Willms would score Rempel on a RBI ground out and Luke Ryan would hit his second double of the game, and for third time this afternoon, score Sheldon Peterson. Ryan’s double would end the scoring for the PBL on the afternoon and extend the lead over the BRBL to 15-3.

Fast forward to the bottom of the seventh, PBL leading 15-4 and the BRBL would creat a mini-rally off of Holden Blue Jays pitcher Steve Hrabec. Aided by a couple of errors, the BRBL All Stars would plate four in the inning with a RBI single by the Rivals Greg Duvall and a two RBI double from Jackson Berry. Berry would finish the game 5 for 5 with a double, 3 RBIs and a run scored for the BRBL.

The defensive play of the game may have come in the bottom of the seventh when Rosalind third baseman Ryan Yuha would make a great play moving away from his momentum on a deflection. Amisk’s Brayden would hit a comeback off the glove of Stephen Hrabec, which Yuha then reached back to his right for while moving left to make a great throw from his knees to get the out at first. It was a great play that joined Doug Morris’ diving catch at short and near double play in fourth inning, Cal Zimmer’s diving catch in the sixth inning on a sinking line drive in centre and Stephen Hrabec’s catch on the mound on a rocket come back line drive that turned into a double play.

The win was a great showing for the two leagues in the annual Harry Andreassen All-Star Game. It also marked the first afternoon time slot for the game, as it has traditionally been hosted in Camrose with an evening first pitch with the game finishing under the lights.

During the game the fans took a moment to show appreciation to local umpire Peter Rodgers who volunteer his time for the game. A familiar face with both leagues, the veteran umpire was acknowledged for his continued support of the PBL and BRBL.

The Powerline Baseball League will now shift it’s focus to the Championship, which will see game three between the Armena Royals and the Leduc Milleteers on Tuesday evening in Armena. On Sunday afternoon Leduc’s Dallas Woodman and Alex McIntosh were teammates with Armena’s Luke Ryan and Doug Morris. In a couple days they will be advisories in what has become a terrific series to end the 2018 PBL season. First pitch for game three will be 7:00pm at Anniversary Park in Armena.

Posted in PBL