Royal Comeback To Even Series

After losing an early lead on Thursday night, the Armena Royals would battle back and take game two in the top of the seventh with 6-4 win at Fred Johns Park in Leduc. The win will even the PBL Championship Series against the Leduc Milleteers at 1-1 and sets up a game three on Tuesday July 31 at Anniversary Park in Armena that will see the PBL Champions be crowned. Unless things play out like the last game three played at Anniversary Park (2016) and the game ends in extras due to darkness forcing teams to reconvene for a game three 2.0 at a later date. It is the PBL, you really never can tell what might happen.

With the possibility to sweep the Pennant winning Armena Royals on Thursday night, the Leduc Milleteers sent veteran right hander Steve Pahl to the mound to try and capture the franchises sixth PBL Championship since 2008. Countering Pahl was Armena’s Lyndon Galvin. Both pitchers would battle all night filling the strike zone and using their defence behind them to great effect.

Steve Pahl would get the start for the Milleteers

The Royals would open the scoring in the game with a second inning RBI single by DH Clark Banack. Catcher Sheldon Petryshyn would start the inning off with a single before swiping second base off the duo of Steve Pahl and Trevor Pahl. Once in scoring position all it took was a single back up the middle for the 1-0 Royals lead. The stolen base was a problem for the Milleteers pitching and defence all game and at the same time it was a catalyst for the Royals offence. Armena would steal a total of 9 bases in the game off of the Steve Pahl and Jon Anstey on the hill and Trevor Pahl and Brad Engel behind the plate. The Royals would score 6 runs in game two, each one of those runners that would come in to score had stolen a base and gained an extra ninety feet.

Clark Banack contributes to the nine Armena stolen bases on the night

In the third inning with one out, Zenan Sherbaniuk would walk, steal second and then be driven in by a RBI single from Doug Morris. Morris would steal second base and after an error by the Milleteers defence would score on a RBI ground out from Petryhysn to make it 3-0 at the time. In the top of the fifth inning, now trailing 4-3, the Royals would use the stolen base to tie the game with some fundamental baseball. Left fielder Devan Varga would hit a lead off single, proceed to steal second and then move to third on the throwing error to the Milleteers catcher. A couple of pitches later Varga was scoring the tying run when Zenan Sherbaniuk would lift a sacrifice fly to right field. All of a sudden it was 4-4.

Zenan Sherbaniuk scores on a single by Doug Morris

Armena would use their speed and the stolen base once again in the top of the seventh inning, this time to win the game. With one out, the now short stop Devan Varga would reach base on his second single of the game. Zenan Sherbaniuk would get hit by a Jon Anstey pitch to put runners on first and second. Varga would proceed to steal third, Sherbaniuk second and with two out Luke Ryan would hit a flare to right field that would just get over the glove of Alex McIntosh to score both runners and make it a 6-4 ball game and set the stage for game three.

Luke Ryan delivers a two RBI single in the top of the seventh

Leduc’s offence struggled in the early going against Royals pitcher Lyndon Galvin but finally got on the board in the third. Left fielder Brendan Huber would reach base with a single and later be brought in by second baseman Alex McIntosh as the first year Milleteer would beat out a throw at first for a RBI fielder’s choice. In the fourth inning centre fielder Kirk Smith would start a big inning for Leduc with a single and after a passed ball and a costly error, would cross home plate to make 3-2 Milleteers. Another error later in the inning by the Royals defence would lead to a pair of runs, including the go ahead run at the time. With one out and runners at second and third, catcher Brad Engel would put a ball in play and use his speed to rush a throw that pulled first baseman Luke Ryan off the base. Trevor Pahl was scoring on the play to tie the game at 3-3 but speedy Brendan Huber would come all the way in from second on the play to give the Milleteers a 4-3 lead before the Royals would score three unanswered runs to win the game. Huber provided much of the Milleteers offence from the eighth spot in the order, finishing the game 1-1 with a pair of walks, two runs scored and two stolen bases.

Brendan Huber scores for the Milleteers

Game two was an intense game that saw tempers flare a couple times, both during the game and after the game between the two teams. In the fifth inning the umpires got together to rule that Doug Morris weaved too far to the inside of the base path on a come-backer to pitcher Steve Pahl. The result was a missed out at first base on the throw and Morris standing at second. Unfortunately for the Royals the runner would be called out sparking an exchange between Morris and Milleteers third baseman Del Kruk. Words were again exchanged later in the inning when Kruk would make an error at third base, in front of the Armena dugout. In the 7th Leduc pitcher Jon Anstey would get Morris to pop up to Kruk in foul territory and in the bottom of the 7th Morris, now on the hill to close out the game, would get Kruk to ground out for the second out. The stare-down from Morris would cause Kruk to make his way over to the Royals dugout after the game where David Ritz played peacemaker. It is playoff baseball and after four meetings between these two teams already and now a third and final Championship game, it is a great ending to the season for baseball fans!

Milleteers Del Kruk is confronted by Royals David Ritz after the game

With five days off before game three, both teams are expected to have all of their pitchers ready and available. Armena should have Morris, Galvin and game one starter Ian Sherbaniuk ready while Leduc could have the likes of Pahl, Anstey, Chad Soucy and game one winner Kirk Smith ready. With both teams having quality arms, hitters might not get to see the same pitcher twice in what could be a low scoring affair. If the Royals win it will be their second PBL Championship in the last four seasons, winning the 2015 PBL Championship against the Rosalind Athletics. It will also wash away the dismal 2017 season for the Royals who went from nearly winning the 2016 PBL Championship against the Rosalind Athletics, losing in day two of game three’s extra innings (teams played nine innings on a Tuesday night and another seven on Wednesday night), to finishing 3-11 in 2017. The Royals started the 2018 season with the third longest winning streak in modern PBL history and a PBL Championship would complete the comeback season. If the Milleteers win, it will be the franchises sixth PBL title since 2008 and sixth title in six PBL Championship appearances. Leduc is already in the PBL history books with five consecutive championships (2009-2013), something that the legendary Ryley Rebels of the late 1980’s to early 2000’s couldn’t accomplish as they peaked at three consecutive titles in their nine championship dynasty.

Game three goes Tuesday July 31 at Anniversary Park in Armena. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00pm.

Alex McIntosh is tagged by Sheldon Petryshyn in the fifth inning

Devan Varga with one of his two stolen bases

Adam Pahl sends Kirk Smith home in the fourth inning

Del Kruk delivers a single in the second inning

Lyndon Galvin delivers a pitch just a bit outside. He tried the corner and missed.

Posted in Armena Royals, Leduc Milleteers, PBL

Milleteers Escape With Game One Win

The 2018 Powerline Baseball League Championship Series began on Tuesday night at Anniversary Park in Armena with the pennant winning Armena Royals hosting the Leduc Milleteers. The Milleteers would take the opening game by a score of 8-5 but the Royals made it closer than the score suggested with a late game rally.

Starting pitchers for game one were Ian Sherbaniuk for the Royals and Kirk Smith for the Milleteers. Both pitchers would pitch their team into the seventh inning, albeit with different ways to success. Smith would dominate the Royals hitters in stretches as the right handed power pitcher would strike out 11 Armena hitters in his 6.0+ innings of work. Sherbaniuk would use the defence behind him to get outs as the knuckleballer would retire only one Milleteer via the strikeout in the top of the sixth inning. Both offences were able to pick up their hits against both pitchers as Smith allowed 10 hits while Sherbaniuk was touched up for 8 hits by the Milleteers. Both pitchers would however get big outs when their backs were against the wall as Armena left 11 runners on base, 8 of which were left in scoring position, while Leduc would leave 5 runners in scoring position and 7 total base runners on the night.

Royals pitcher Ian Sherbaniuk

Milleteers pitcher Kirk Smith

Both teams came out swinging in their first few plate appearances. In the top of the first inning the Milleteers would score three runs off Sherbaniuk after shortstop Mykel Ruptash and second baseman Jon Anstey both reached on singles. Catcher Alex McIntosh would work a walk from Sherbaniuk to load the bases for third baseman Del Kruk to get hit with an inside pitch for the first run of the game. With runners at second and third the Milleteers would capitalize on a slow developing play with two runs. Pitcher Kirk Smith would hit into a 6-4-3 double play which scored Anstey from third base, but a big stretch and tumble at first base by Luke Ryan to secure the out would allow a second run, McIntosh, to score on the play as well to make it 3-0 early on. Armena would counter with back to back singles by centre fielder Zenan Sherbaniuk and short stop Doug Morris to lead off the bottom of the first inning against Smith and the Milleteers. Unfortunately it would be the start of missed opportunities for the Royals as both Sherbaniuk and Morris would be left stranded in scoring position. Smith would get first baseman Luke Ryan and catcher Sheldon Petryshyn swinging before right fielder Liam Gregor would end the inning on a come-backer to Smith.

Milleteers catcher Alex McIntosh scores ahead of the tag by Royals catcher Sheldon Petryshyn

Ian Sherbaniuk would settle down after a rough first inning as he would retire the six of the next seven Milleteers he would face. The only batter to reach for the Milleteers in either the second or third inning was second baseman Jon Anstey who would hit a flare into shallow right field that would go off the glove of David Ritz. The Royals would finally get on the score board in the third inning as short stop Doug Morris would hit a one out RBI to the left side allowing left fielder Devan Varga to score from second base. Vargas would lead off the inning with a single and a stolen base to get into scoring position. Luke Ryan would put runners on the corners for the Royals but once again a clutch hit would evade Armena as Petryshyn and Gregor would be retired to end the threat. The Milleteers would then have the opportunity they were looking for in the top of the fourth inning.

Royals shortstop Doug Morris makes contact

Pitcher Kirk Smith would reach via a lead off walk to start the inning and after a throwing error to Royals third baseman Landon Miller allowing right fielder Trevor Pahl to reach first base. With a pair of runners on, first baseman Steve Pahl would pound a RBI single past the Royals right side of the infield to score Smith and make the game 4-1. Short stop Mykel Ruptash would hit a sacrifice fly to centre field for out number two and a 5-1 lead. Then a scary moment Milleteers second baseman Jon Anstey would hit a hard ground ball that would hit a divot and jump up on Royals short stop Doug Morris catching him flush in the face. The play would result in another Milleteers run as Steve Pahl would score from second base with the Royals defence trying to react to what just happened. After a few moments of lying on the infield and getting checked out by the Milleteers training staff, Morris would continue and would record the final out of the inning.

Milleteers first baseman Steve Pahl pounds a RBI single through the right side of the Royals defence

In the home half of the fifth inning the Royals would make it a 6-2 game as Luke Ryan would pick up his second single of the game, this time a RBI single, to score Zenan Sherbaniuk from second base. It was now the second time of the game that the Royals would get on base, steal a base and score a run due to the extra ninety feet obtained by the stolen base. But once again they would struggle to pick up any more momentum as Smith would strike out the side to end the inning and the threat.

Leduc would end Sherbaniuk’s night on the mound in the top of the seventh inning after back to back hits to lead off the inning. Catcher Alex McIntosh would reach via single and would come all the way around to score when Del Kruk would drive a ball to the left centre gap that would evade both Royals left fielder Devan Varga and centre fielder Zenan Sherbaniuk allowing Kruk to get to second base. It was that play that would end Sherbaniuk’s night leaving his final line of the night at 6.0+ innings pitcher, 8 hits, 8 runs and 6 earned runs. Armena would turn to Dan Matushyk out of the pen to get the Royals out of the inning. The right hander would start off by allowing a single to Kirk Smith and a RBI single to Trevor Pahl, but settle in to get Steve Pahl, Ryan Swensen and Brad Engel in order to end the inning. Down 8-2, the Royals were ready to try and make an epic comeback.

Royals catcher Sheldon Petryshyn drives in two runs after a lengthy at bat.

A lead off error to second baseman Jon Anstey on a ground ball from Doug Morris would quickly turn into a two RBI bloop single by catcher Sheldon Petryshyn to make it 8-4. Despite being off balance all night with three strikeouts already on the evening, Petryshyn would battle Smith to a full count before sticking his bat out to get a bleeder for a pair of RBIs. Smith’s night would come to an end after right fielder Liam Gregor would single back up the middle for Armena’s tenth single of the night off of Smith. Manager Steve Pahl would turn to Jon Anstey to try and close out the now 8-4 ball game as the tying run loomed on deck for the Royals. Designated hitter Clark Banack would hit a major league popup for out number one but third baseman Landon Miller would strike with a RBI single up the middle to score Petryshyn and make it a 8-5 game. With Gregor at third and pinch runner Lyndon Galvin at second base, David Ritz would battle Anstey for a walk to load the bases and put the tying run on for the Royals. But as the story played out many times already this game for Armena, the big hit just didn’t come. Anstey, who was celebrating his birthday on Tuesday night, would get Devan Varga looking before ending the game with a sneaky fastball against Royals lead off hitter Zenan Sherbaniuk.

Milleteers pitcher Jon Anstey would record the save on his birthday

The Leduc Milleteers are now 5-1 in PBL Championship game ones dating back to the 2009 season where they started their run of five PBL Championships in a row. The 8-5 victory over the Royals moves the Milleteers PBL Championship record to an impressive 11-3 in the five Championship series they have participated in. The Royals are 5-4 in game twos dating back to 2008 and are 2-1 in game twos after losing game one. In 2013 the Royals lost game one of their semi final series to the Leduc Milleteers and then lost game two as well, but in 2014 against the Holden Blue Jays the Armena would bounce back from a game one loss with a win. Their other game two victory came in 2016 when they lost game one to the Rosalind shutting out the Athletics in game two.

The Royals will need to regroup for game two.

Game two of the 2018 Powerline Baseball League Championship is set for Thursday July 26 at Fred Johns Park in Leduc. The Milleteers will be looking to secure the franchises sixth PBL Championship while the Royals will be looking to scrap together a win to force a game three back at Anniversary Park on Tuesday July 31. A recent Twitter poll shows that most fans are expecting a three game series between the Royals and Milleteers…

Posted in Armena Royals, Leduc Milleteers, PBL

Royals Punch Their Ticket To Championship

For the third time in four seasons, the Armena Royals will be playing for a Powerline Baseball League Championship. The Royals defeated the Holden Blue Jays 5-3 on Thursday night at Anniversary Park in what became a tense game due to the weather.

 

The pitching matchup was Steve Hrabec for the Holden Blue Jays and Doug Morris for the Armena Royals. Both pitchers threw well and filled the strike zone, there were no walks allowed during the game. The Royals came out swinging against Hrabec with back to back to back singles by Zenan Sherbaniuk, Doug Morris and Luke Ryan to lead off the game made it a quick 1-0 lead for Armena. An error to the Blue Jays would allow Morris to score the second run as the Royals would send seven hitters to the plate collecting four hits and a 2-0 lead. Hrabec would however get out of the early jam getting back to back ground ball outs to strand two Royals in scoring position and start a streak of retiring thirteen of the next fifteen Armena hitters. But it was the two hitters he didn’t retire in the bottom of the third inning that would cost the Jays another run. With one out in the inning, Luke Ryan would reach on an error to Jays shortstop Colten Ziegler. Ryan would steal second base and would end up colliding with second baseman Craig Weder on a play that shook up Ryan. After a brief delay to allow Ryan to collect himself, Sheldon Petryshyn would drive him in to make it a 3-0 lead.

Royals pitcher Doug Morris would throw a complete game

The Jays would finally get to Morris in the top of the fifth inning when the bottom of the order would start the rally. Allan Ziegler and Clay Geibelhaus would lead off the inning with back to back singles. Geibelhaus’ singles would turn into an extra base after a misplay in left field by Luke Ryan moved both runners into scoring position. Lead off hitter Colten Ziegler would hit a one out infield single allowing Allan Ziegler to score and Geibelhaus to sneak in to third. The extra ninety feet was pivotal for the Blue Jays as Grayson Suprovich would bring in the Jays second run of the night and trim the deficit to 3-2 on a sacrifice fly to right field. Morris would however get Zak Lang on his third hard hit out to the outfield of the night, keeping the score 3-2 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning with a massive storm beginning to threaten the completion of the game.

Second baseman David Ritz makes a play for the Royals.

In the bottom of the fifth, the game now considered an official game with the 3-2 lead by the home Armena Royals, the umpires would give in to the rain and stop the game just as the Blue Jays made a pitching change. A one out single by Doug Morris, which also turned into an extra base on a fielding error by centre fielder Randall Ziegler, lead to the Jays calling on Grayson Suprovich to take over from Hrabec. Just as Suprovich finished his warm up the skies opened up and the game was officially in a rain delay. It was a quick, but intense, fifteen minute rain delay before the umpires met with both teams and it was decided that we would try to finish the game. Suprovich would hit the first batter he would face, Luke Ryan and get his second out of the inning on a ground out to Sheldon Petryshyn. The ground would was big for the Royals as both Morris and Ryan would advance on the play for a big two out single by right fielder Liam Gregor to make it a 5-3 lead in what would eventually become the game winning hit.

Steve Hrabec was given the ball in the deciding game three.

Heading into the top of the seventh inning the Jays were three outs away from being knocked out of the playoffs. The skies were opening up, lightning was being used as a light source due to the heavy darkness brought on by the clouds but the teams came this far and were not going to let a little weather stop them.

Royals pitcher Doug Morris was still on the mound and the Jays would get to him with two outs. After an error by his short stop, Morris would get another ground ball, this time off the bat of Colten Ziegler and in what looked like a possible double play ball. Ziegler would beat out the throw to first on the fielders choice which would prove big for the Jays with Suprovich and Lang coming up. Suprovich would come through with a single and Lang would finally put up a run for the Jays by driving in Ziegler. With two out, the tying run on second base, Morris would get cleanup hitter Craig Weder to fly out to centre field where Zenan Sherbaniuk would make the game winning catch in the midst of a lightning storm, darkness and driving rain. The complete game effort for Morris gives him a win in the series to go along with a save he earned in the 8-7 win in game one by Armena.

Zenan Sherbaniuk scores a run before Jays catcher Allan Ziegler can get the tag down.

The weather ended up overshadowing the play on the field as after the game some fans were left wondering out loud if the umpire crew and the teams made the right decision in allowing the game to continue with lightning strikes occurring as close as the train tracks just north of the ball diamond. Getting out of the top of the fifth inning with a 3-2 lead was the key moment for the Royals as the weather was on their side. The storm was bad enough that you had to wonder if the teams would have been able to play the bottom of the seventh, even if Craig Weder would have hit a three run home run to make it a 6-5 Jays lead. If the bottom of the seventh wasn’t able to play out, as per PBL rules, the score would have reverted back to the score at the end of the last complete inning, which would have been a 5-2 Royals lead. With all of that said, everyone also understood the importance of allowing an elimination game to be played out as opposed to a weather or darkness shortened game to end the season of one of the teams.


Armena Royals vs Leduc Milleteers For The Championship

The matchup is now set, the Royals will take on the Leduc Milleteers for the 2018 Powerline Baseball League Championship. The two teams have met twice in the playoffs since the Milleteers joined the PBL in 2008. Their first meeting was in the 2012 PBL Championship where the Milleteers would battle back from a game one defeat to the Royals to win the series 2-1 for their fourth PBL title in four years. The two teams would tangle once again in the playoffs the following season, this time in the PBL Semi-Final Series where the Milleteers would swept the Royals 2-0 on their way to the teams fifth PBL Championship in as many seasons.

Schedule for the best of three PBL Championship

Game One – Tuesday July 24 – Leduc Milleteers at Armena Royals

Game Two – Thursday July 26 – Armena Royals at Leduc Milleteers

Game Three – Tuesday July 31 – Leduc Milleteers at Armena Royals *If Necessary*

Posted in Armena Royals, Holden Blue Jays, Leduc Milleteers, PBL