The local squad capped their season-long quest for the Little League Saskatchewan Major AAA championship with an 11-1 win over North Regina in the gold medal game at Gamble Diamond on Wednesday night.
The victory marked the third-straight mercy-rule win of the playoffs for Moose Jaw and fourth in five games.
“We pitched really super awesome, we fielded well, we hit the ball hard, we did all the little things right,” said All-Stars head coach Tony Dreger. “It was pretty much a perfect game.”
With everything on the line in the first game of the ‘A-B’ final, the All-Stars threw caution to the wind when it came to pitcher conservation, and that meant it was all Max Simmons, all day.
The Moose Jaw starter tossed all five innings, giving up the single run on four hits while striking out eight and needing only 54 pitches in the process. He also helped get things done at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a run scored and two runs batted in.
“I was just trying to throw strikes when I was pitching and when I was hitting I was trying to get my bat on the ball and hit the gaps,” said Simmons, the son of local curling stand-outs Pat and Cindy Simmons. “I’m glad we won… it feels good to win and to win the whole thing, but to mercy them twice and especially in the finals was good.”
Team captain Javin Boynton knocked home Noah Thul with the mercy-rule invoking run in the bottom of the fifth after Thul had earlier scored Simmons with a double.
“The win felt really good,” Boynton said shortly after accepting the championship trophy. “We went up and down a couple times (during the week) but it was still pretty good. We knew we could do it so we just pulled it off.”
Boynton finished the game 2-for-2 with a pair of walks, three runs scored and the aforementioned RBI. Thul and Cooper Gregor also crossed the plate twice each, with Gregor knocking in a pair of runs.
The All-Stars opened the tournament with a 13-3 win over Regina Kiwanis before suffering one of the few in-province setbacks they’ve seen all season in an 11-6 loss to North Regina. They rebounded in style with a 20-0 win over Kiwanis in the first game of the playoffs, followed with a 20-10 win over North Regina in the ‘A’ final and, after North defeated Kiwanis in the ‘B’ final, closed things out Wednesday.
“That loss probably helped us re-focus and re-adjust, it showed us that we’re not invincible,” Dreger said. “So that got us refocussed, working hard again and it paid off. We mercied all the other games so we’re super happy with the boys.”
Having so many double-digit victories is just a product of how the team plays the game, Dreger added.
“When they come in between the lines they want to have fun, but work hard and play good baseball,” he said. “We’ve been doing that the whole year, now we’re looking forward to Canadians and seeing what we can do down there.”
The Canadian Little League Championship runs Aug. 1-10 in Ancaster, Ont. (see sidebar), with the winner advancing to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Penn. Aug. 15-25.