|Redbirds playing at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg|
(Photo courtesy of Bev Paulhus)
On the first day, both teams played games at the Walter Fuller baseball complex, which is an excellent facility which has been used by the Tampa Bay Rays as their minor league spring training facility as well as Team Canada and has 5 MLB sized fields.
At the same time, the JV team was taking on the 16U Terriers Blue team. The Calgary bats were quiet, with Blake Enders driving in the only 2 runs in a 9-2 defeat.
|Top Canadian prospect, Cal Quantrill|
The Varsity and JV teams also played afternoon games, both falling short to the Ontario Terriers. Due to an umpiring scheduling conflict, yours truly was even summoned from the stands to serve as a base umpire for one of the games. This was more baseball than any of the players had participated in since the end of October. In spite of the Alberta teams combining for a 1-3 record on the day, it was great just to be outdoors and in the sunshine, and the players all seemed to be in good spirits.
|PBF Redbirds players listening to Lyle Mouton|
|PBF coaches Joe Sergent (L) and Brian Rios with Mouton (R)|
Meanwhile the Varsity team was facing Florida ProBound which was a team mainly of semi-professionals. Every player had played at least a couple of seasons of college ball, three players had recently been cut by MLB organizations, and others were playing in professional leagues overseas. Brodie Stairs started on the mound and pitched very well, and in spite of the level of the competition, the Redbirds kept it a reasonably close game, ending up on the short end of a 10-6 decision. This drew praise both from the opponent's coaching staff and players who were impressed at how well this younger team played.
|Some Redbirds players relaxing at a Jays game|
|Inside Tigers locker room|
Meanwhile the Varsity team played a doubleheader against the Ontario Outlaws. In game 1, they only managed 3 hits and lost. But they looked much better in Game 2. They were down 4 runs in the first inning, before starting to fight back. Jake Derwent went 4-4 with 2 triples, while Ty Scott also reached base in all 4 of his plate appearance. Three straight hits in the bottom of the 7th, including an RBI double by Colton Seaman, brought the tying run to the plate with no outs, but the Redbirds ended up on the wrong end of a 7-5 final.
On Monday, the JV team faced the Etobicoke Rangers in their first game. Owen Steele pitched 4 innings while only being charged with 3 earned runs, but the offense didn't get in gear, only outputting 4 singles and Calgary lost. In the afternoon, they faced the Oakville Royals again. In this game they managed to get across three runs. But playing their 6th game in just over 72 hours, finally caught up to them, as some tired arms led to a 19-3 loss.
Meanwhile, the Varsity team played a late afternoon/evening doubleheader against the Ontario Prospects at Al Lang Stadium. This is a beautiful park overlooking the Bay, and the New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays and several other teams have called this home to their spring training teams in the past.
|First of two runners thrown out at home.|
|Driving to field... We ain't playing today!|
Overall it was a great experience for all members of the teams, and a good way to get ready for the spring season.