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All-Stars using off day to recharge, regroup and have a bit of fun

Prairie champions look to pick up first win at Little League Canadian Championship after 0-3 start
If ever there was a team that needed to take advantage of an off-day to get back on track and regain their winning ways, the Moose Jaw All-Stars are it.

The local squad are 0-3 at the Little League Canadian Championship after the first week of competition, having lost 14-7 to Quebec, 12-5 to host Ancaster and 9-6 to Atlantic. Not only that, they’ve yet to put together their best performance at a time when that kind of a game is absolutely necessary.

So why not just forget about baseball for a day and see what else the province of Ontario has to offer?

Consider it done.

“A bunch of us went last night to Niagara Falls and a bunch of us went today, and there were some kids who went to (Canada’s Wonderland) outside of Toronto,” said All-Stars head coach Tony Dreger. “It’s the rest day, so everyone is scattered all over… there’s always something to do out here and there’s a lot of fun to be had.”

There was some baseball to deal with: folks who have been following the tournament on have seen players from other teams on their off days working a few innings on commentary alongside host Matt Cullen during one of the three games a day. For the All-Stars, that duty fell to catcher Nathan Pisio, who by all accounts did a solid job on the mike,

“It was like ‘who wants to do it when we have so much other fun stuff to check out’, you only have one day off so you want to do something,” Dreger said. “But Nathan did it for us, he wanted to do it and it sounds like he had fun, another great experience for our guys.”

The All-Stars are back in action Monday when they take on Alberta (Calgary West), needing to win their remaining three games in order to have a chance of finishing in the top four and reaching the semifinal.

“I think the rest day has helped the boys, maybe rejuvenate them a bit,” Dreger said. “We have three games and we’re right in the thick of it. Absolutely 100 per cent we have to win some games, and we can do it, we have the guys and we have the horsepower, but we have to want it and believe we can. So this is the opportunity for the boys to show what they can do.”

It’ll take some better baseball, to be certain. While the All-Stars have been putting the ball in play and have drawn rave reviews for their never-say-die attitude, their pitching and defence have left much to be desired, as their opponent run totals would indicate.

“Pitching, I think we’re just trying to overexert ourselves, do a little more than we need to,” Dreger said. “All these teams are good hitting teams, so we’re trying to do too much and we’re hitting guys, we’ve had lots of walks, and to be honest that’s not been like us on the mound.|

“Then we’ve been throwing the ball around a little bit and that’s hurt us, too… if we could delete an inning per game we’d be in pretty good shape right now, since it seems to be one inning that hurts us the most each game.”

Making things all the tougher is that pitching and defence have been two of the hallmarks of the All-Stars’ game all season. In fact, that total package across the board was a major reason they were so optimistic heading into the tournament.

“It’s just the way it goes, it’s 11- 12-year-old baseball and things can happen,” Dreger said. “You have one bad inning and they score a bunch of runs or they have a tough inning and we score a bunch of runs. It’s just things work out at this level of a tournament.”

One thing is for certain, though: the past week and days ahead are all going to be something none of the players will ever going to forget.

“The experience for these guys has been crazy,” Dreger said. “With the cameras and the TVs and the interviews and the nice field, and I think part of it has been understanding that. These are all good teams, that’s why they’re here, they’re the best of the best in the country. But it’s been a great experience for them and a lot of fun.”


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