Bantam Spitfires take provincial championship
The Olds Spitfires bantam baseball team was crowned the Tier 2 provincial champion over the weekend at O.R. Hedges Park.
The Spitfires beat the Camrose Cougars 7-6 in the final on the strength of a great pitching performance from Dustin Larson, an underage pitcher who threw strikes all year long.
“Camrose is a well-hitting team. Dustin … kept them off balance all game, changed speeds… for a peewee kid against mostly a second-year (bantam) team, he did exceptionally well. It was a team effort, but his pitching got us through,” said Chris Grudeski, the team’s coach.
The Spitfires began the tournament on Friday with a 6-1 victory over the Bonneville Braves, followed by a 13-10 victory Saturday against Sherwood Park. In the crossover semifinal against Calgary, the Spitfires blanked the southern team 10-0 in a shortened four-and-a-half-inning contest.
Dustin Caplett picked up the victory against Calgary, getting 10 of 15 outs via the strikeout. Grudeski said Caplett had an excellent performance, with the offence chipping in as well.
“He pitched probably the game of his life, I think. He was very dominant over them and our hitting really came around,” he said.
Grudeski said he hopes the provincial championship will bolster the entire Olds Minor Baseball program.
“That’s the goal we set at the start of the year and that’s what we pushed the boys for. The biggest thing (about being champion) is everybody starts talking about next year already. The biggest thing for us is we’re trying to get minor baseball back up and in full force again, and so we’re trying to get a lot more of these provincial programs going out of Olds.
“I don’t think the boys realize it yet, but this might be what gets provincial baseball back to Olds (on a large scale),” he said.