Sauce cook up provincial title

The High Prairie Sauce won the Under 11 [Years] A Tier 2 baseball title in Slave Lake July 15-17 after going undefeated in four games. In the front row, left-right, are Vance Cunningham, Dominic Halcrow, Kendall Anderson, Dax Johnson, Max Payne and Kelby Letendre. In the back row, left-right, are head coach Barry Johnson, D.J Auger, assistant coach Sandy Desjardin, Madykx L’Hirondelle, Brody Cunningham, Markus Willier, Tazannah Belcourt and assistant coach Brian Cunningham.

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

The High Prairie Sauce won the Under 11 [Years] A Tier 2 baseball title in Slave Lake July 15-17 after going undefeated in four games.
The Sauce defeated Slave Lake 14-6 on July 15, and Red Deer 13-1 on July 16 to reach the semi-final where they defeated Hanna 10-9 in walk-off fashion. The capped off their championship run by defeating Slave Lake 7-1 in the final.
“I think for me, as a coach, they were a great group of kids, very coachable,” says head coach Barry Johnson.
The season started in early June with tournaments and exhibition games. Johnson says it was evident from the start that the dedication of parents and players was leading to something special.
“After the Grande Prairie tournament in mid-June, I though this would be a goal for the group to go to provincials,” says Johnson.
“They had a good attitude toward the game, they wanted to be there and they wanted to win.”
Players are under stringent pitch counts deemed by Baseball Alberta. As a result, the team had five pitchers share the weekend workload.
In the first game Friday over Slave Lake, Kendall Anderson and Kelby Letendre pitched to the 40-pitch limit deeming they would be ready for Sunday. Dax Johnson pitched the final innings.
In the blowout win over Red Deer, coach Johnson was able to use three pitchers sparingly. Tazannah Belcourt and Markus Willier were each kept to a 25-pitch limit while Brody Cunningham mopped up with less than 15. It set the stage perfectly for Sunday with all hands on deck.
In the thriller over Hanna, Dax Johnson started and pitched to the 75-pitch limit. Willier then came in and pitched to his 50-pitch limit before Anderson completed the game.
Vance Cunningham doubled home two runs in the last inning [bottom of the sixth] to record the walk-off win with two out.
As a result, coach Johnson had all pitchers he wanted available for the final.
Anderson started the final before maxing out his pitches in the third inning. Letendre finished the game. The game ended after five innings because teams are allowed to score a maximum of five runs per inning so Slave Lake could not rally to win.
Coach Johnson says baseball is all about pitching and his staff was excellent all weekend.
“They threw strikes and were not wasting pitches,” he says, adding with pitch counts in effect pitchers had to be economical.
Hitting and defence was just as good.
“A lot of our hitters were good. We picked Vance [Cunningham] as our tournament MVP, but overall, hitting as a team has ever been a problem. We drew a lot of walks, we were disciplined.”

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