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Major All-Stars open provincials with mercy-rule win

Seven-run first inning paces Moose Jaw to 13-3 victory over Regina Kiwanis
The Moose Jaw Major AAA All-Stars might have taken an inning to get rolling in their Little League Saskatchewan provincial championship opener, but once they did, there was no stopping them.

The All-Stars scored seven runs in the second inning in their tournament opener against Regina Kiwanis on Thursday at Gamble Field, eventually taking a 13-3 five-inning mercy-rule victory.

“It was a great start,” said All-Stars coach Tony Dreger. “I think the good thing about it is this is provincials, this is what we’ve been playing for and working towards for the whole year. The kids had a bit of jitters and that’s to be expected, so it was good to get those jitters out of the way early and get off to a good start.”

Making things all the more impressive is that the win was as complete as any the All-Stars have had this season – not only did they put double digit runs across the plate, they held Kiwanis to only a single hit through the five innings.

First, the offence.

Max Simmons led the way with four hits and a pair of runs batted in, while Tyson Ross had three hits and Noah Thul a pair of base knocks. Cooper Gregor and Owen Varjassy knocked in a pair of runs each.

“I think we’re getting to be a little more patient at the plate, so after the first inning when we didn’t score any runs, the boys were okay, they were relaxed and in the second inning they were able to hit the baseball,” Dreger said. “They got rolling, that was exciting and I was really happy to see the boys do that.”

The All-Stars’ pitching was also on point, as Simmons, Gregor, Trehvan McMorris and Ryan Duncan all saw action on the mound and held Regina to the aforementioned single hit, with Gregor and Simmons not giving up a run or walk in the process.
Using four pitchers in a five-inning game was all by design, said Dreger.

“We just worked on trying to get some guys on the bump and making sure that the guys were throwing strikes, just to get going and get rid of the rust and the nerves so we’re ready for Friday night,” he explained.

If there’s one area the All-Stars want to clean up, it’s the defence – the local squad committed a total of six errors in the contest, a number Dreger and his fellow coaches attributed to the aforementioned nerves as much as anything else given their solid play in the field all season.

“We missed some ground balls, and we’ll work on that in practice this week and through the weekend so we sharpen that up a little bit,” he said. “But overall our fielding has been really strong so I’m not too worried about that.”

Provincials continue tonight with Regina Kiwanis taking on North Regina, with Moose Jaw facing North Regina to close out the round robin on Friday. Playoffs begin Saturday and run through the weekend, with the first game of the championship final set for Monday. All games are at 6 p.m. at Gamble Field.

“I think North Regina is pretty strong, they had two decent teams that they merged together, so they’re going to have a nice squad,” Dreger said. “Our guys have been working hard and they’re ready to go, so I’m looking forward to that one tomorrow night.”

The tournament champion will advance to Canadian Little League Championship Aug. 1-10 in Ancaster, Ont., with the national champion representing Canada at the legendary Little League World Series Aug. 15-25 in Williamsport, Penn.