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Rebels hold on for dramatic 8-7 win in Tier 3 baseball championship game

Posted on June 6, 2024 by Taber Times
Times Photo submitted

Southern Alberta Newspapers

It’s back-to-back championships for the W.R. Myers Rebels baseball team.

On Saturday, Myers captured gold in Pincher Creek, as the Rebels downed the Maple Creek Red Sox 8-7 in the Southern Alberta High School Baseball League Tier 3 final.

“We had a flare for the dramatic all weekend in the tournament, and the championship game didn’t disappoint,” said head coach Garrett Simmons, whose team watched an 8-4 lead shrink to 8-7, as Maple Creek rallied for three runs in the top of the seventh.

Two key defensive plays helped Myers walk off the field as champions, as catcher Hayden Span tagged out a Red Sox runner at home for the second out, with the score 8-6. Then, after Maple Creek made it 8-7, shortstop Tage Jensen recorded the final out, as he ranged behind second base and made a circus catch on the outfield grass for the third out.

“Those were two massive, massive defensive plays,” said Simmons. “Our catcher made a tremendous heads-up play to tag out a runner trying to steal home on a weird, broken play. Without that play, who knows how that inning goes. And for our shortstop to make that amazing catch to end it – that’s about as dramatic as it gets.”

In what was the theme for the weekend, Myers needed a comeback in the final, as Maple Creek scored four in the top of the first to make it 4-0.

Jensen then manufactured a run on his own in the bottom of the first, as the lead-off hitter stroked a single, stole second, advanced to third on a passed ball and then scored on a two-out steal of home.

The Myers offence put up four in the bottom of the second, as Jensen’s RBI single started the rally. A Span double brought home three more.

Taber’s offence was quiet until the fourth, when Tanner Bullock nailed a triple to bring home a run. A Span ground out to first scored Bullock to make it 7-4.

     

Span scored a run in the sixth as the Myers catcher took an extra base after a Evan Koizumi single, and caught the Red Sox off guard as he raced home for what would eventually be the winning run,

In between it all, starting pitcher Randon Lauwen worked a solid five-and-one-third innings for the Rebels, as he struck out 11 and walked only one.

“He kept us in the game,” said Simmons. “After that first inning where Maple Creek got a few breaks and we made a few defensive miscues, he locked things down and didn’t give the Sox anything to hit. Simply put, he was dominant on the mound all year for us.”

As the dust settled, Jensen ended the game 2/4 with a RBI and two runs scored, Bullock was 1/4 with a RBI and a run and Span was 2/4 with four RBI and a run. Koizumi was 1/3 and had the team’s last RBI. Lauwen was 2/3 at the plate, Bryden O’Connor was 1/2 with a run and Cayden Fehr was 1/3 with a run, Jaxon Maksymytz was 1/2 with two runs.

Bullock pitched one-and-two-thirds innings and struck out two to record the save.

Saturday’s final was just the conclusion of the dramatics, as Taber’s second game against Country Central featured a massive comeback from an 8-2 deficit.

The Rebels put up 11 runs in the bottom and the fifth, and 11 more in the bottom of the sixth, and eventually cruised to a 24-15 win.

“County Central’s starter really kept us off balance with a dangerous slow curve ball,” said Simmons. “Once he left the game, we really did damage against the relievers.”

Span went 4/4 at the plate with three RBI and four runs, while Bullock also scored four times and went 2/3. Koizumi collected three hits while Lauwen, O’Connor, Dane DenHollander and Hugo Saenz all had two hits each. O’Conner led the team with five RBI. Fehr and Keira Virostek had one RBI each.

Fehr struck out eight over four innings of work, while Kaeden Vayro notched a strikeout in his one inning of work and DenHollander struck out three in two innings.

“In a three-game tournament over two games, you really need a number of pitchers to step up,” said Simmons. “Full marks to our pitchers in that game for getting us through to the final.”

Taber’s opening game Friday was a 20-10 win over Matthew Halton. Myers trailed 10-2 heading into the bottom of the second, as the tournament got off to a rocky start.

The Rebels scored 11 in the bottom half of the inning, tacked on four in the fourth and three more in the fifth.

“Our kids didn’t panic, worked themselves back into the game and we eventually pulled away,” said Simmons. “It was a tough test to start the tournament but we stuck with it.”

O’Connor, Maksymytz and Carter Jensen all drove in two runs each in the win, while Tage Jensen, Bullock, Span, Lauwen and DenHollander all had one RBI each. Fehr, Lauwen and Maksymytz scored three runs each in the game, while Jensen, Bullock and Koizumi crossed the plate twice each. O’Connor and Reid Swistun also scored runs.

Maysymytz struck out two in one inning on the mound, Bullock struck out three in his one inning and Lauwen fanned nine in three quick innings of work.

In the end, the Rebels wrapped up a season where the team went 8-4-1 total and took home a second consecutive league championship banner.

“It’s a far cry from where the program was three years ago when we brought the team back from the dead after a long period of inactivity and went 0-10 on the season,” said Simmons. “High school baseball has grown tremendously and this year, we even had a full junior varsity team. The sky is the limit for the program going forward.”

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