Sports Baseball

Padres in tough at provincial showdown

By Brian Oliver, The Graphic

Blake Swedlo, pictured, and the rest of the Portage Padres travel to Neepawa, Man., this weekend for Baseball Manitoba’s 2017 Senior AA Provincials. (Brian Oliver/The Graphic)

Blake Swedlo, pictured, and the rest of the Portage Padres travel to Neepawa, Man., this weekend for Baseball Manitoba’s 2017 Senior AA Provincials. (Brian Oliver/The Graphic)

Some of the finest senior baseball clubs in the province will be descending upon Neepawa, Man. this weekend.

Baseball Manitoba’s 2017 Senior AA Provincial Championship kicks off Friday afternoon and the Portage Padres are one of eight teams from across the province vying for provincial supremacy.

“It’s truly going to be a test of the best teams around the province to determine an overall champion,” said Padres player/manager Rod McLeod. “Competition will be high. Every team there has either won their pennant coming in first or (qualified via the) wild card because they were high in league standings.”

Joining the Padres in Neepawa this weekend include Boissevain, Morden and the Cardinals out of the Brandon league to make up Pool A, while Oak River, Springfield, Pilot Mound and the host Cubs make up Pool B. Each team plays three games in round robin format to determine the top two teams from each pool and those four teams advance to Sunday’s playoff rounds – a feat McLeod and his fellow Padres hope to accomplish.

“Our goal is to make the playoffs and go from there. We’ll set up our pitching staff accordingly with how we’re doing in the round robin games and if we make that playoff round we’ll have something to figure out,” he added. “I think with a tournament like this, the hottest team is going to win. If we can catch fire, you never know.”

The Padres – who earned the right to come to Neepawa thanks to posting the top record during the regular season among teams in the Santa Clara Baseball League with an impressive 11-1-2 record – will have to do without veteran catcher and clutch hitter Daylan Laramee, who will absent from the tourney due to work commitments.

The good news for the Portage club is that reserves are standing by, as the team picked up ace pitcher Daylon Creasy (Carberry) along with an injection of youth into the roster with the addition of Brody Moffatt, Chance Dickenson and Lane Taylor - all of who suited up for Austin this past season and won a pair of provincial championships with the PCI Trojans (MHSAA) and the Portage Pirates (U18 midget).

“We felt like they’re good enough ball players they’ll help us out this weekend,” said McLeod. “They’re from Portage already so we felt it was a good opportunity for them to come play senior baseball.”

Padres’ tourney schedule

Portage opens the 2017 provincials with a Friday evening affair with Morden set for 6:30 p.m., followed by a double header Saturday, starting 9:30 a.m., against a tough Boissevain squad before concluding the round robin against the Cardinals.

“Boissevain is probably going to be the hardest team we’re going to face in the round robin,” admitted McLeod. “They dominated the Southwest league this year. They’ve got some outstanding pitching and hitting. But if we play well, we’ll have as good a chance as any.”

boliver@postmedia.com

Twitter: @PDGBrian



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