Scoop On The PBL

In the 1990’s Powerline Baseball League fans would receive their baseball news from a local sports writer simply known as Scoop. The stories would appear in the Tofield Mercury and be primarily focused on the hometown Tofield Lakers, featuring in-depth breakdowns of league games and even tournaments. It was the PBLs lifeline to the community pre-internet and pre-social media with the paper reaching readers throughout the County of Beaver. 

Here is a story in the July 7, 1992 edition of the Tofield Mercury which captured the month of June for the Tofield Lakers. The short and to the point statement of facts and some of the language used is entertaining. It is a good snapshot of the league in the early 1990s. Scoop mentions the Main Street signage used in town to notify baseball fans about upcoming Laker games, home runs were a plenty with aluminum bats and Kenny Parent always had a rubber arm. It is also interesting to see how umpires were recognized in the updates as well. It was a different time in the PBL when one day an ump is calling the game on the bases and on the weekend pitching for you in a tournament. 

Dan Lyle of the Tofield Lakers steals second base in the early innings of the first playoff game in the Powerline League Thursday. The Lakers lost the first game against the Holden Blue Jays 10-2. Photo: Terri Kemball – July 21, 1992 Tofield Mercury

Below is Scoop’s submission in its entirety. I kept the charm of the grammar and spelling as it was written. 

Laker Ball highlights

By Scoop

July 7, 1992 – Tofield Mercury 

What has happened with the Tofield Lakers in the Powerline Baseball league the past few weeks you wonder? 

First a re-cap of league games to date.

*****

Their second home game of the season on June 9 found the Lakers in a tight contest against the Holden Blue Jays. 

Holden seemed to have the upper hand until Jim Warner, in the bottom of the third inning, scored from second base on an error. This sparked a powerful Laker “rally” including a triple by Allan Miskew and RBI by Randy Cox for the go-ahead run in this inning. 

Holden finally shut the Laker offence down. Allan Miskew pitched a winner with the Laker’s defence holding the Holden Blue Jays scoreless through the last four innings. 

Final score read 7-6 in Tofield’s favor.

*****

Game 3 of this league was umped by Pat Donnan (home plate) and Dave Carlson (bases). Dave Bouma joined the Laker lineup for his first game of the 1992 season. 

*****

Game 4, Tofield vs Bardo in Bardo was cancelled because of Bardo’s Sports Day tournament scheduled for June 13. 

Instead game 4 found Ryley visiting Tofield June 16 at the Tofield fairgrounds. 

Allan Miskew was the starting pitcher holding Ryley’s first two bats scoreless. 

Bottom of the second inning with bases loaded the Lakers walked in their first run of the game. Lakers, unable to capitalize on loaded bases in the second inning, discovered Ryley turning up the burner with five runs crossing home plate in the third inning, and one more in the fourth. 

Ken Parent stepped in to pitch the last three innings. 

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Dave Bouma his first home run of 1992. When the inning’s dust settled, Tofield had chalked up two runs. 

Don Henriksen, in the bottom of the seventh inning hit a RBI bringing a run in — not enough to catch the Rebels. 

Lakers experienced their first loss of the season 6-4. 

Umpires for this game included Dave Carlson (home base) and Robert Lyslo (bases).

*****

The game initially scheduled June 4 was played June 19 in Ryley with Tofield Lakers facing Ryley Rebels for the second time in one week. 

The Laker bat ruled this game. 

Don Henriksen smacked a double in the first inning with Allan Miskew brining him home on an error for the first run on the books with one run scored by Tofield in the second inning. 

All was quiet until the fourth inning. Bottom of the fourth was Ryley’s inning brining in three runs to go ahead 3-2. 

Back, back…way back! Don Henriksen pounded a home run in the fifth inning brining in both the tying and go-ahead runs. Allan Miskew smacked a solo home run, sending the Lakers ahead 5-3. 

Ken Parent joined the home run club in the top of the sixth with Pat Kallal doubling for a RBI. 

Ken Parent pitched six scoreless innings. 

Ryley counting only in the fourth inning, for a Laker win of 8-3. 

*****

June 23 Tofield soundly defeated Bardo Athletics 19-7. Dan Lyle was credited with the win. 

Completion of three innings of ball found a tied game. 

Tofield then recovered three runs in the top of the fourth. Bardo answered with one run making the score 6-4. 

Laker bats came alive racking up seven runs in the fifth inning followed by six more runs in the sixth and final inning. 

*****

The seventh league game scheduled for June 25 was cancelled against Ryley due to a number of injuries on the Tofield Lakers restained during Ryley Sports Day tournament. A spectacular crash over a fly ball left Cy Smith with a cracked rib.

*****

The Tofield Lakers have participated in three baseball tournaments; Bardo, Ryley and Holden Sports Day. 

Bardo Sports Day, June 19 saw Tofield defeat Holden 6-1 in the opening game. Holden scored their only run in the first inning. Ken Parent launched a home run in the bottom of the first inning brining two runs home. Top of the fourth found bases loaded for Holden. Three consecutive outs pitched by Ken Parent with no runs scored. A “hidden ball” play in the fifth inning, between second base and the Lakers pitcher resulted in Holden’s third out again no runs scored on loaded bases. Lakers rallied in the sixth inning to bring in four runs sealing their victory. Greg Litwin hit his first RBI of the season. 

The A-final, Bardo found Tofield pitted against Ryley. After three complete innings of ball it was a tie game. Dave Carlson pitched the first four and half innings leaving a tie game to Randy Cox to finish. Ryley was brutal in the fifth inning scoring seven runs with a fence clearing attempt to field a high fly ball by outfielder Dan Lyle. Top of the sixth found Tofield scoring four runs, three on a triple by Dave Bouma. Ryley answered with two more runs against Dan Lyle pitching the final bat for Ryley. Final score – Ryley, 11 and Tofield, 6. 

June 20, Tofield lost the opening game of Ryley Sports Day against Holden, 6-2. It was a steading game with runs scored in all innings but the second and fourth. Both RBIs for the Lakers were manufactured by Allan Miskew. Dave Carlson was the early morning pitcher. 

*****

Ryley’s B-final sported Tofield against Bardo with Randy Cox as Laker pitcher. 

Bardo started out on top with four runs in by the second inning. Single run RBIs hit by Randy Cox and Ken Parent made it 4-2. 

A long catch by Laker fielder Pat Kallal resulted in a sharp double play keeping Bardo scoreless in the third inning.

The fourth found both teams scoring three runs each creating a 8-7 ball game in favor of Bardo. 

Lakers changed pitchers brining in Dan Lyle who held Bardo to one run. 

Bottom of the fifth finished the game with Tofield scoring nine runs including two-run RBIs by Neil Anderson and Greg Litwin respectively. 

Tofield defeated Bardo 16-9 winning the B-final. 

*****

June 27 and 28, a two-day baseball tournament hosted by the Holden Blue Jays had Tofield playing the opening game Saturday morning against Daysland. 

Tofield’s first bat against extremely strong wind conditions saw four RBIs. One each credited to Ken Parent, Dan Lyle, Neil Anderson and Dave Carlson. 

Daysland replied scoring one run. 

In the third inning, both teams matched two runs. 

Tofield jumped on their bats top of the fourth with Don Henriksen hitting a single run RBI and Ken Parent cleaning up with a two-run RBI. 

The game was called after five complete innings. Tofield, 11 and Daysland, 3. 

Pitcher for the Lakers was Ken Parent. 

*****

June 28, Tofield met with Holden for their second game in the tournament. 

First inning saw Ken Parent crack a double for an RBI putting Tofield ahead 2-1.

Lakers rallied in the third inning with steady bats bringing in four RBIs. Hitters included Dan Lyle, Dave Bouma, Greg Litwin and Brian Schulze with a nice bounce to the fence. 

Tofield scored twice more with an RBI by Don Henriksen in the fourth and one run crossing home plate in the sixth inning. 

Dave Carlson pitched four and a half innings for the win with Ken Parent closing the six inning game for the save. 

Tofield, 8 and Holden, 5 was the final tally in the sun. 

*****

Sunday’s A-final was trouble for the Lakers matched against Heisler. 

The Lakers couldn’t capitalize on their bats. Heisler scored three runs in the first inning. 

Tofield loaded the bases in the second, but couldn’t find a way home. 

Halfway through the third inning Allan Miskew passed the pitcher’s ball to Dan Lyle. Heisler totalled six runs. 

Finally scoring one run in the fourth, their first and last, the game was called after Tofield’s unsuccessful fifth inning bat. 

The sun set on a 9-1 final for Heisler. 

*****

There were two more makeup games – one against Ryley and the second with Bardo before this Powerline league is completed, followed by the playoffs. 

If Tofield defeats Ryley they will maintain their first place standing. 

Neither game has been scheduled at this time. 

*****

Watch Main Street corner for more Laker news. 

Thanks to the umpire and loyal fans who keep this team up and ready! 

Let’s do it Laker’s!!

 

The original article was a two page spread in the July 7, 1992 Tofield Mercury which also featured the Ryley Blue Jays and Tofield Triggers tournament victories. 

 

Bunting for a win: Darrell Malick attempts to hit a bunt in the first inning of the Lakers/Blue Jays playoff game. The Blue Jays won 10-2, with Ron Oslund pitching. The next game in the best of three series is Tuesday night in Holden. If the Lakers win, they come back to Tofield Wednesday. Photo: Terri Kemball, July 21 1992

 

The big wind-up: Tofield Lakers pitcher Ken Parent whips a ball over the plate in the second game of a best of three series against the Holden Blue Jays last week. The Blue Jays won, moving on to the finals against Ryley. Photo: Terri Kemball, July 28, 1992

 

The throw, the swing and the bat: The Tofield Lakers ended their season last week, going down to defeat against the Holden Blue Jays, who go on to meet Ryley in the finals of the Powerline League. The Lakers played a good game, losing when Holden scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Above, Dave Bouma hits a home run for the Lakers and takes a leisurely trip around the bases. Photo: Terri Kemball, July 28, 1992

Posted in Bardo Athletics, Holden Blue Jays, Kris, PBL, Ryley Rebels, Tofield Lakers

The End for Bardo

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. 

Dane McCarty would make the final start for the Bardo Athletics on a picturesque evening

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

What became an all too familiar sight for the A’s in 2016 as rain would cause rainout after rainout (from Bardo Athletics Twitter)


Monday July 18, 2016 – Bardo Recreation Grounds

Ryley Rebels – 17

Bardo Athletics – 4

 

Bardo Athletics Lineup 

  1. Rob Berrecloth
  2. Jeremy Copeland
  3. Joel Hendrickson
  4. Dustin Huebert
  5. Dane McCarty
  6. Craig Neufeld 
  7. Peter Neufeld
  8. Shaye Yoder

(Unfortunately the full Bardo Athletics lineup was never recorded, but they did have at least nine players)

A young minor baseball call up for the A’s plays third base against the Rebels on July 18, 2016

 

Ryley Rebels Lineup

  1. Tom Shulba – SS
  2. Corey Epp – LF/P
  3. Kevin Reinholt -1B
  4. Shawn Pilgaard – 3B
  5. Kris Kushnerick – CF
  6. Craig Koughan – C
  7. Brian Tavaroli – 2B
  8. Josh McDonald – RF
  9. 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. 

First Inning

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. 

Rebels RF Josh McDonald scores the seventh run in the top of the first inning against the Bardo Athletics on July 18, 2016

Second 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. 

Player/manager Craig Neufeld would toe the rubber for the Athletics against the Rebels on July 18, 2016

Third 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.

Pitcher Tyler Helgeland would pick up two hits and two RBIs as well as the win for the Rebels against the Bardo Athletics on July 18, 2016.

Fourth Inning

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. 

Dustin Huebert of the Bardo Athletics flips the ball towards second base against the Ryley Rebels on July 18, 2016

Fifth Inning

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. 

Rebels Tom Shulba, who would get hit by a pitch three times in the game, takes a lead with Athletics 1B Craig Neufeld holding him on.

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. 

Rebels 2B Brian Tavaroli rounds third with the assistance of 1B/coach Kevin Reinholt against the Bardo Athletics on July 18, 2016

The Bardo Athletics left fielder makes a strong throw into the infield against the Ryley Rebels on July 18, 2016


Below are some images of the Bardo Athletics in action over the years.

Posted in Bardo Athletics, Kris, Ryley Rebels

The 2018 Season In Review

The new year has arrived, we are now only five months away from the 2019 season, so it’s perfect opportunity to revisit the successful 2018 Powerline Baseball League season.

In 2018 the PBL grew to nine teams with the addition of the Camrose Axemen and Edmonton Expos. The PBL has never seen a nine team league, the 2004 season which saw eight teams had been the largest the league was until last season. The league opted for a fourteen game season to avoid having the season run too long into the summer with an additional two games for a balanced schedule. The league ended up finishing in one of the earliest regular seasons in modern times with the final games played on July 5. It was an abnormal year for sure, there was only a small handful of games that were needing to be re-schedule. The unbalanced schedule, while voted in favour of by most teams, was talked about as perhaps needing to be changed back to a balanced schedule due to the close standings. For example, the Holden Blue Jays finished in 4th place, tied with the Leduc Milleteers who they only played once in the regular season. An additional game against the Milleteers and another one against the Tofield Braves, could have seen the Blue Jays move up the standings and avoid hosting the Wild Card Game. The Axemen, who finished a game back of the Expos, had only one game against the Expos and only one game against the last place Sherwood Park Athletics. A balanced schedule of two more games might have send some shifting in the standings as only one game separated Armena and Rosalind for the pennant, Holden and Leduc were tied in the standings and one game separated Edmonton and the Axemen for the wild card berth. It will be interesting to see if the league executive modifies this back to a balanced schedule for 2019. 

P Kyle Muzechka was dominant on Wednesday night in the Jays Wild Card game win

The PBL held its first Wild Card Game in 2018, with the 4th place team hosting the 5th place team the day before the semi-finals would start (Wild Card Game Recap). The league has seen two tie breaker play-in games in the past, one in 2011 between the Ryley Rebels and the Bardo Athletics and one in 2014 between the Holden Blue Jays and Beaumont Angels. In 2018 it was the Blue Jays hosting the expansion Edmonton Expos in the one game elimination with the winner set to take on the pennant winning Armena Royals the following day. The Blue Jays would go on to win the Wild Card Game on Wednesday July 11 before heading to Armena to take on the Royals on Thursday July 12. The league created the Wild Card Game to get more teams involved in playoff baseball and reward the pennant winners with a series against the Wild Card winner. The Wild Card winner more than likely would use their ace and other pitching to win the Wild Card. The Jays would use Kyle Muzechka to dominate the Expos in a one hitter in the Wild Card Game to move on to play the Royals, where one of of the best pitchers in the league would at best be able to go five days later on Tuesday for game two. At the meeting prior to the season the league was pitched an idea of having two wild card games to reward the pennant winners and the second place team by having a 3rd vs 6th Wild Card Game and a 4th vs 5th Wild Card Game with the lowest seed remaining moving on to play the pennant winners. This was shot down for the 2018 season as the league wanted to see how well the 4th vs 5th place Wild Card Game went first. By most accounts the game was a success with a packed crowd in Holden to watch the Jays and Expos play on that Wednesday night in July. 

The Powerline Baseball League returned to All Star glory in 2018, with a convincing 15-8 win over the Battle River Baseball League on a nearly thirty degree afternoon in July. Armena Royals 1B/OF Luke Ryan was named the game MVP, winning the Doug Wolbeck Memorial MVP award, by going 3 for 4 with a pair of doubles, three runs scored and four runs batted in. The PBL All Stars were managed by Ryan Yuha from the 2017 PBL Championship winning Rosalind Athletics. The PBL All Stars would jump out to a quick 7-0 lead in the top of the first inning before making it 15-4 after back to back four run innings in the fourth and fifth. A total of eighteen hits would be produced by the PBL pacing the offence to the most runs scored in an all star game since 2004. The win puts the PBL record at 10-6-2 since 2000. You can read a full recap of the All Star Game here.

Back row (L-R); Steve Hrabec, Reg Zimmer, Lance Zimmer, Zach Willms, Curtis Munesy, Cal Zimmer, Gary LeBlanc, Doug Morris, Craig Neufeld, Dustin Huebert, Alex McIntosh
Front row (L-R); Randall Ziegler, Sheldon Pederson, Ryan Yuha, Luke Ryan, Vaughn Rempel, Dallas Woodman

Luke Ryan receives the Doug Wolbeck Memorial MVP Award

Manager Ryan Yuha receives the Powerline Baseball Challenge trophy in honour of Harry Andreassen from Matt Andreassen

he biggest story of the 2018 Powerline Baseball League was the mini-resurgence of the Armena Royals. The Royals won the 2015 PBL Championship, lost the PBL Championship in 2016, were looking like they weren’t going to win a game in 2017 finishing 3-11 and then rebounding by winning the PBL Pennant and PBL Championship in 2018. The 2018 Royals joined the 2014 Ryley Rebels as the most recent team to go from out of the playoffs one year, to winning the Championship the following year. The Royals would sit atop the standings from start to finish and wouldn’t lose a game until June 14 when they would finally fall 9-6 to the Holden Blue Jays. On May 24 fans were excited to see the 4-0 Royals take on the 4-0 Edmonton Expos but Mother Nature had other ideas and the game ended up being one of the few postponed games of the season. 

Because of their dominant regular season the Royals were awarded with a playoff series against the Wild Card winning Holden Blue Jays, who wouldn’t be able to pitch ace Kyle Muzechka in game one. The Royals would win a close game one 8-7 before being dominated in game two by Muzechka to lead us to a crazy game three. With storm clouds surrounding Anniversary Park the Royals would clinch the series with a game winning catch in centrefield by Zenan Sherbaniuk in the rain, darkness and lightning. The win would send the Royals to the PBL Championship in a rematch of the 2012 series between the Royals and the Leduc Milleteers. 

The Milleteers also had a resurgence in 2018 of sorts. The once dominate team that won five consecutive PBL Championships from 2009-2013 were quickly swept by the Rebels in 2014 and by the Rosalind Athletics in 2017 while missing the playoffs completely in 2015 and 2016. The Milleteers would exact revenge on the A’s in 2018 sweeping them in two games by scores of 6-1 and 8-7. 

Leduc would take game one against the Royals in Armena with the Royals rally coming up just short before a heated affair in Leduc would see Armena come away with the win to push the series to a third and final game. The bounce back year was complete as the Royals would win their fifth PBL Championship since 2002. Royals pitcher Doug Morris would have to be the playoff MVP for his work on the mound alone picking up a win in game three vs the Holden Blue Jays, a win in game two against the Leduc Milleteers and a win in game three vs the Leduc Milleteers. All three wins came in elimination games. 

Pitcher Doug Morris celebrates with catcher Sheldon Petryshen

PBL Playoff Recaps – click on the link for the full story.

Wild Card Game – Edmonton Expos at Holden Blue Jays

PBL Semi-Final Game #1 – Holden Blue Jays at Armena Royals

PBL Semi-Final Game #2 – Rosalind Athletics at Leduc Milleteers

PBL Semi-Final Game #3 – Holden Blue Jays at Armena Royals

PBL Championship Game #1 – Leduc Milleteers at Armena Royals

PBL Championship Game #2 – Armena Royals at Leduc Milleteers

PBL Championship Game #3 – Leduc Milleteers at Armena Royals

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

How did they rest of the league fair? Here are the final standings; 

Good Seasons

  1. Armena Royals (11-3, 1st Place) – the Pennant, the Championship, All Star Game MVP winner and leading the PBL wire to wire was a big success for a team that finished with only three wins in 2017. Good pitching, good fielding and better hitting was the blue print for the Royals success. The Royals also benefited greatly by more of the roster being available full time proving that consistency in a roster helps dramatically. 
  2. Edmonton Expos (8-6, 5th Place) – the expansion team at one point was neck and neck with the Armena Royals for the first part of the season before falling down to a 8-6 finish. Strong pitching, big bats and the ability to recruit from the Edmonton area will serve the franchise well. The Expos did experience a forfeit loss due to an illegal player which was appealed successfully by the Sherwood Park Athletics and some small roster issues but those were chalked up to first year growing pains. 
  3. Leduc Milleteers (9-5, 3rd Place) – off season acquisitions led to the Milleteers returning to a championship calibre team. Strong pitching from Kirk Smith and the rejuvenation of Steve Pahl and Jon Anstey made the Milleteers the best defensive team in the PBL allowing a league low 49 runs. New Milleteers Alex McIntosh and Del Kruk made an immediately impact to the team in their first season with the team while a roster full of stable veterans helped carry Leduc to within one game of their sixth PBL Championship since 2008.

Expos pitcher Gary LeBlanc would hold the Blue Jays to only two hits on the night.

On Par Seasons

  1. Camrose Roadrunners (4-10, 7th Place) – a four win season by the Roadrunners has been an improvement over the lean seasons of winless baseball but the Roadrunners continued to struggle to win games. They had a new look in 2018 sporting black and purple vs the traditional black and grey we were accustomed to. They are continuing to improve with the recent additions of Lance, Trey and Reg Zimmer and maybe push for a playoff spot soon.
  2. Holden Blue Jays (9-5, 4th Place) – strong pitching, good defence and scoring just enough to win continues to be the success formula for the Jays. Kyle Muzechka continues to be the most valuable ace in the league winning big games. The Jays have become almost a guarantee for the playoffs, but have not been able to take the next step and win a championship since 2010. The pitching a defence allowed the second lowest amount of runs scored in the league (58) and the offence, despite scoring the third fewest runs (68) in the league, can score when they need to. The Blue Jays were also able to schedule two games in Vegreville to expand the team’s and league’s reach.
  3. Rosalind Athletics (10-4, 2nd Place) – four seasons in the league and four trips to the playoffs. While the roster is aging and becoming more and more part time, there is still quality fielding and hitting to win games and a whole pen full of guys who can throw strikes. A second place finish and trip to the playoffs rewarding the team for a good season was nothing new for the Rosalind Athletics. 

Camrose Roadrunners Marcel Lesoway delivers a pitch vs the Edmonton Expos

Disappointing Seasons

  1. Camrose Axemen (7-7, 6th Place) – the inability to hold runners and the inability to field a baseball at times cost the Axemen numerous games. Scoring runs wasn’t the problem (112) but prevent runs (109) was. The 7-7 expansion Axemen missed the wild card game by a single game and were Jekyll and Hyde at home (5-2) and on the road (2-5). The team contains a lineup that can easily be the youngest in the league 1-9 and another lineup that might be the oldest. More young players are on their way as the team will undoubtedly continue to improve with experience.
  2. Sherwood Park Athletics (1-13, 9th Place) – the A’s were set to become the most recent team to post a winless season but a successful appeal gave the A’s a 1-13 record. The A’s have been expected to tap into the large Sherwood Park Minor Baseball Association for players and will hopefully be able to one day. Winning only one game after a two win season in 2017 was an unfortunate step backwards. But everyone is expecting the A’s to start the climb up the standings soon. 
  3. Tofield Braves (4-10, 8th Place) – like the Axemen, offence wasn’t the problem in 2018, defence was. The Braves scored the second most runs with 116 but allowed the most 141 (19 more than the second most) run last year. There are some young bodies in All Star Dustin Huebert and Shaye Yoder being added to the mix but the strong core has gotten a little older and outside of pitcher Corey Epp, innings have become a struggle to try and fill. 

Tofield Braves Craig Koughan drives a ball against the Sherwood Park Athletics

In 2018 the league was able to expand its coverage with support from the Vegreville News Advertiser, the Tofield Mercury, the Camrose Booster and the Camrose Canadian. The PBL’s social media reach grew in 2018 and hopefully in 2019 the league can get more coverage in the Leduc and Sherwood Park media. The Camrose Canadian is no longer publishing due to Post Media cut backs, the last edition they produced was in August 2018. The goal of reaching out to the media is to try and let more people know about the PBL, it’s teams and it’s players with the hope that the more people know about it, the more people will want to participate in it. 

The 2019 season will close out yet another decade of Powerline Baseball League action. While it is unclear exactly when the PBL started but we are closing out what will likely be it’s seventieth decade of operation. This of course is based on the fables that the league became the Powerline Baseball League post World War 2 when power lines were being installed in the area. The PBL is doing well and isn’t worrying about staying afloat, instead it is looking to continue to grow. 

Posted in Armena Royals, Camrose Axemen, Camrose Roadrunners, Edmonton Expos, Holden Blue Jays, Kris, Leduc Milleteers, PBL, Rosalind Athletics, Tofield Braves