The Swift Current Midget AA Indians are looking forward to second chances when they host the 2014 Western Canadian Baseball Championships this weekend. The Midget Indians will host the provincial AA champions from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia beginning Friday and concluding Sunday.
The Indians are coming off a second-place finish at Provincials last month and they also placed second at Westerns when they hosted last season.
The Indians attended AA Provincials on July 25-27 and won five straight games to advance to the championship game. They rolled through the round robin with four straight wins, outscoring their opponents 58-1.
"The first four games I thought we played really well,” explained coach Brennan Peterson. “Our pitchers threw a lot of strikes and they attacked the strike zone. Our defense played really well and we were hitting. It was exactly what we wanted for the first couple of days and it was a lot of fun to watch."
The Tribe defeated Moose Jaw 3-0 in the semi-final and then ran into the North East Red Sox in the final. They lost the final 6-4 in a game that needed three extra innings.
"It was an excellent game and it was exciting. There were great plays made by both teams actually. I think what really hurt us was the fact that we left a lot of runners in scoring position. We had a couple of innings where we had runners on second and there was less than two out and we just weren't able to score runs. It was an exciting game, both teams played really well, unfortunately we came out on the wrong end of it," said Peterson.
"I think it was extremely disappointing for the guys, especially after we had such a good first two days there. To not finish it off was very disappointing. The guys were pretty upset about it."
He hopes that his team can grow from that loss.
"It is a good learning experience for them, now they can kind of remember that feeling coming into Westerns and have a strong showing there too."
The Indians have a rare second lease of life as the hosts of Westerns this weekend.
"Of course our goal is to win Westerns. But we are going to have to find a way to play a complete tournament, as opposed to just the first few games. If we can put together a complete tournament where we pitch well and play great defense then I think the rest will take care of itself."
Peterson let the team take a week off after Provincials to rest up and refuel after a busy month of July.
"We started to practice again this week and we are trying our best to simulate some game situations, which we will do closer to Westerns too. Right now we are just kind of shaking the rust off and getting back into things."
The Indians will benefit from a roster full of players that played in Westerns last season with the Midget or Bantam Indians.
"Yeah I think so because whenever you are playing in a championship it is a different kind of atmosphere. You really have to manage your emotions well and if you let your emotions get the best of you then things can go south in a hurry. We were in plenty of close games last year and we have quite a few of those kids back. I can definitely see it helping us in the long run," he added.
The Indians have also added a pitcher from Prince Albert for Westerns. "We watched him play there and we were really impressed with the way he pitched. He is going to come help us as a starter or out of the bullpen on the mound a couple times, we haven't quite decided where we are going to fit him in.
"It is just nice to have that extra arm because when you have to play five or six games in a weekend it just helps to have extra guys you can throw on the mound," Peterson added.
The Midget Indians will open the tournament on Friday at 9 a.m. against Manitoba’s Rock Lake Regals. They will face British Columbia that same day at 3 p.m.
Swift Current will be back on their home field on Saturday at 12 p.m. against Alberta and then will get their rematch with the North East Red Sox on Saturday at 6 p.m.
The Midget championship game will be played Sunday at 6 p.m. at Mitchell Field.