A trip down memory lane

Posted April 17, 2008

A trip down memory lane

It’s hard to believe a decade ago the idea for a men’s baseball team in Armena was born. Since then, titles have been won and lost, faces have come and gone, and many great games have been played.

With this year’s splitting of the Axemen from the Powerline Baseball League and the re-emergence of the Armena Royals, we take a look back at the Top 10 moments in franchise history since the team’s inception almost 10 years ago.

One last look back before moving ahead with two new and different chapters in Axemen/Royals baseball.

No. 10 – First one is sweet (May, 1999)
It’s hard to top a franchise’s first point and subsequently its first win. A rag-tag bunch of high schoolers and teenagers finds a way to salvage a point in a 7-7 home opener against the Camrose Roadrunners in 1999. However, unfortunately it’s unknown when the Royals won their first game enroute to a 4-9-1 record. It’s still moment No. 10 in our countdown.

No. 9 – Double No-Nos for Peterson (May 20, 2003 and June 8, 2004) 6-8a
First, on opening day, May 20, 2003, Scott Peterson gives the Chipman Crackerjacks a little dose of reality as he fans and baffles the renegade bunch from up north in a 2-0 no-hit victory behind enemy lines. Then, on June 8, 2004, Peterson throws up yet another goose egg in the hit column as the Axemen tear up Tofield 15-0 in Armena, June 8, 2004.

No. 8 – Hot Harke steals one for Axemen in 2006 opener (July 25, 2006)
A sizzling Brett Harke continues where he left off in the regular season to help the Axemen overcome a 4-0 early deficit against the upstart Camrose Roadrunners. Harke hit a two-run bomb before knocking in another late in the duel to clinch it, as Peterson hung on at the hill. The huge win allowed the Axemen to come back in the third game after dropping game two.

No. 7 – Speaking of game three, here it is, Peterson gets it done (August 1, 2006)
Just when it looked like the Axemen finally might drop a first-round series after winning four in a row from 2002 to 2005, Peterson throws a gem and the Axemen shutout the Roadrunners to grab a spot in the final versus Bardo. Minus the hot Harke due to injury, Peterson and the Axemen gave up just five hits and threw up a snowman in a solid 8-0 series-clinching win.

No. 6 – Veteran ‘Pumps’ it up in Tofield (July 25, 2005)
7-7With rains washing out the Bardo infield, game two in the semifinal series versus Bardo is moved to Tofield, and Boettger misses out on a chance to pitch on his native grasses, but basks in the glory of the Big-T, aniliating Bardo batter after batter in what was considered one of the greatest playoff pitching performances of all time in franchise history. The Axemen had little offensive support through five as Boettger and Mike Leclaire dueled to a 1-0 score. Then the Axemen threw up six runs in the sixth inning to cap the series.

No. 5 – Rookie outfield caps dramatic playoff comeback (July 17, 2003)
bardo2Probably the greatest Axemen comeback of all time as a young group of nine players, minus Scott Peterson, who was away on holidays in BC, get on the back of pitcher Clark Banack and ride a memorable seventh inning victory to eliminate Bardo and move on to the Powerline final. After a John Spigott double and with two outs in the top of the seventh facing Ray “The Legend” Lehman, Jason Buzzell squeaks one out over the short porch in left center to tie the game before almost unknowns, Tyler Warawa, Alex Eelhart, Tyler Olafson and Mike Sampson all get aboard to go ahead before Banack pitches a scoreless final frame to win the game 8-6.

No. 4 – Stensrud stellar, Helgren a hero (July 31, 2003)
axefinal3On a beautiful summer night in Camrose in front of a large crowd (By PBL standards anyway) the Armena Axemen’s Curt Stensrud pitches a great game, scattering eight hits and allowing just four runs. He was equally matched by Roadrunner ace and long-time rival Steve Ofrim who struck out 10 Axemen batters. But it was the Axemen’s day, up 1-0 in the series, but down to their final out yet again in the top of the seventh, Spigott got aboard again and Darren Helgren knocked in a pinch-running Alex Eelhart before Stensrud helped his own cause to give the Axemen insurance. A wild bottom of the inning ended with a rocket at Eelhart, who snagged it to tag first for Armena’s second title in as many years.

No. 3 – Birth of a dynasty, end of the Royals (July 29, 2002)
In what many probably believe to be the best moment in team history, I have to disagree a bit, but boy was this one special. After three years of mediocre play and two early playoff exits, the Armena Royals, equipped now with a more rugged lineup after combining with the likes of Wes Harrison, Curtis Stensrud, Wes Wilson, Tyler Warawa and Paul Kruizinga following the demize of the Camrose Roadrunners, the Royals knocked off Lamont in three tight games before sweeping the defending champion Brewers in two well-played games. The final, an 8-6 nail biter that ended with the go-ahead run at the plate for the Brewers, featured Paul Kruizinga picking up the win.

No. 2 – Peterson, Royals pick up first playoff win (July 19, 2001)
You might wonder how a game-one win in a semifinal series could beat out two championships, and a plethora of other big games, including two no hitters, but when Scott Peterson and an extremely green Royals squad marched into Bardo on a warm mid-summer night in July, they were given no chance to win the series or a game for that matter. With Bardo going undefeated at home in the regular season (7-0) and on a nine-game winning streak, including two wins over Armena back-to-back weeks prior, the A’s were heavy favorites. Then Scott Peterson worked his magic striking out 12 batters, and the bats came alive just enough to pick up a thrilling 6-4 win, the first in Armena’s franchise history. Although the Royals lost the next two games, the first playoff win was an epic upset that almost led to an even bigger one in the first round.

No. 1 – Gut-check week, Axemen clip Colts twice (Aug. 10 and 12, 2006)
8-12eIt’s hard to top what most would consider the best two games ever played in Axemen/Royals history, and right up there with the Powerline Baseball League in general. After a championship game one loss in Ohaton of all places, the Axemen, with their backs against the wall, and facing Camrose Colt ace, Jeff MacDonald, won game two with Scott Peterson on the hill, before beating MacDonald again two days later, pitching on just two days rest, with Joel Boettger fanning the pitcher at the plate three times. With so many of the original Royals playing key parts in the come-from-behind championship title, and beating the best opponent they had ever faced, the two wins easily top our list of greatest moments in franchise history.

Posted by Jason Buzzell on April 17, 2008

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