Sports Baseball

Padres fall short at provincial tourney

By Brian Oliver, The Graphic

Blake Swedlo, left, and Robbie Moar, right, celebrate following Moar's three-run blast Saturday afternoon against the Cards. (Brian Oliver/The Graphic)

Blake Swedlo, left, and Robbie Moar, right, celebrate following Moar's three-run blast Saturday afternoon against the Cards. (Brian Oliver/The Graphic)

Late inning heroics weren't enough to salvage a victory.

The Padres clawed back from a pair of hefty deficits but were unable to complete the comeback, falling 12-10 to the Brandon Cardinals Saturday afternoon in the team's third and final round robin game of Baseball Manitoba's Senior AA Provincial championship this weekend in Neepawa.

Padres' pitcher Brody Moffatt helped out his own cause with a lead off homer to right-centre in the bottom of the fourth to jump start the Portage offence. The Santa Clara Baseball League representatives went on to plate four more in the inning to cut the Cardinals lead to one.

"Our bats just weren't as active as they were (earlier in the season), until the last maybe couple innings of (our final round robin) game, in the playoffs and provincials as a whole," said Rod McLeod, Padres' player/manager. "(Quality hitting is) kind of our (modus operandi) and we got away from it so it's disappointing in that sense but we were happy to be here (and) would like to get back."

The Cards sent out left-handed flamethrower Jeff Weibe in an attempt to tame the Portage bats over the final three innings - and if it weren't for a couple of baserunning errors, the outcome could have very fell been different. Weibe caught a pair of Padre baserunners napping at first in both the fifth and sixth - and managed to pick off both to erase a leadoff walk and single, respectively.

The Cards managed to stretch their lead to six runs heading into the Padres' final at bat but a valiant effort by the Portage club provided a far more interesting finish than expected. Down by five with men on second and third, Robbie Moar - the team's most effective hitter throughout the year - connected on a fastball and crushed a three-run shot over the right fielder's head to put the tying run in the on-deck circle, but that's as close as Portage would get, as Weibe settled down from there to punch out the final two Padre batters and cement his team's victory.

"It was a bit disappointing to end the season how we did. We started off pretty strong, obviously going to provincials for the first time is a big plus, but we didn't expect to come here and preform the way we did," said rotation ace Jason Kirkland of the club's 0-3 performance at the provincial event. "One or two (bounces) and we'd be right it in and we'd probably (have advanced to the playoff round). But that's just the way baseball is - sometimes you hate it sometimes you love it. But we're still the cream of the crop so you can take that to the bank."

After opening provincials with a devastating 16-1 loss Friday night to tourney finalists Morden, the boys responded with an impressive performance against eventual tournament champs Boissevain, but ultimately came up short, falling 3-1 Saturday morning before the Cardinals officially sent Portage packing from the tourney.

"We came out and tried our best. It's a learning experience - first time out here (and we're) trying to figure out what we can do. We battled back and kept going, who knows if the little bounces go our way," said long time Padre, Blake Swedlo. "Hopefully next year we can do the same thing in the regular season, (come back) and try and see what we can do."

Morden and Boissevain met Sunday afternoon to decide the 2017 Senior AA provincial champion, where Boissevain won a nail-biter, squeaking past Morden with a 4-3 victory.

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