Despite not-so-optimal weather conditions, the Stonewall Collegiate Rams slugged their way to the team’s second Zone 5 baseball banner in three years.
After trailing the Warren Collegiate Wildcats 4-3 after two-and-a-half innings in the championship game, the Rams scored five in the bottom of the third inning and never looked back, eventually taking the banner with a 19-9 victory in six innings at Fines Field in Stonewall on May 22.
Both Stonewall and Warren contested the final under overcast skies with a strong wind carrying pop flies over the heads of outfielders. Rams coach Kyle Nixon believes his team fared well against the elements.
“I think we played pretty well considering the conditions we had to play. Baseball is a bit of a grind when it’s cold, wet, and windy and I thought my guys battled in those conditions,” he wrote in an email to The Stonewall Argus and Teulon Times. “We can always clean up a few things defensively, but overall, pretty decent.”
After the third inning, the Wildcats cut Stonewall’s lead to one with runs batted in by Ashton Fisher, Lane Bond and Connor Oleschuck. However, the Rams responded with five more runs with hits from Chris Fines, Liam Proven and Hunter Olson — who reached base on all five plate appearances — to take a 13-7 lead after four. A double by Kaden Stewart and a single by Jayden Allary pulled Warren to 13-9, but Stonewall scored four more runs in the bottom of the fifth.
A double play by the Wildcats to end the fifth prevented the Rams from scoring the two runs needed to end the game via the 10-run mercy rule. However, Warren failed to score in the top of the sixth and Devon Cassan’s hit scored both Olson and Fines to end the ball game in the bottom half of the sixth.
Earlier in the day, both teams played their respective semifinal games in the rain, with the Rams defeating the Fisher River Hawks 17-4 in five innings, while the Wildcats eliminated last year’s champions, the Lundar Kodiaks, by a score of 10-7, also in Stonewall. Kodiaks coach Rory Tycoles, who plays senior baseball with the Stonewall Blue Jays of the Winnipeg Senior Baseball League, presented the banner to the Rams.
With the Zone 5 banner in hand, Stonewall has advanced to the 2019 Manitoba High School Athletic Association’s Provincial Baseball Championship, to be played at Optimist Park in Winnipeg from May 30 to June 1.
“To be successful in baseball, it’s very simple but that doesn’t mean easy,” Nixon wrote. “Our pitchers need to consistently throw strikes, our defense can’t give other teams extra outs and offensively, we need to put the ball in play consistently.”