The Sylvan Lake Gulls had a shot at redemption in the West Finals this season but were unable to get over the hump.
Just a year after they were knocked out by the Okotoks Dawgs in the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) West Finals, it happened again.
Last Friday they went down 1-0 in the best-of-three series with a 10-5 loss in Okotoks followed by a 7-1 loss at Gulls Stadium on Saturday in Game 2.
Head coach and general manager Jason Chatwood said the Dawgs are a great team and to beat them your mistakes have to be minimal.
“You can’t give them any freebies and I felt we gave them a few in Games 1 and 2 and they took advantage of it,” he said.
“They got some early leads on us and we just couldn’t find a way to battle back and come up with an equalizer to tie those games. The guys played hard, we just came up short.
“The guys were fairly disappointed but all in all we knew it was going to be a tough series.”
The series loss marks back-to-back exits in the West Finals and despite that, Chatwood said it’ll only make them better down the road.
“We’re putting ourselves in those situations where we’re playing the best in a big series to go to the championship. As hard as it is I think sometimes you’ve got to learn to lose a little bit and gain that experience in those tough games,” he added.
This season the Gulls were one of the WCBL’s top teams finishing second in the West Division with a record of 38-18.
They were one of the top teams on the mound with the two-headed monster of Josh Tucker and Tyler Boudreau. Tucker led the league with 70 strikeouts and Boudreau finished the year with a 1.54 ERA through six starts.
The Gulls also saw the emergence of star shortstop Jonah Weisner who made an immediate impact as a newcomer this season. He led the WCBL with 49 RBIs at the plate. Fellow newcomer Hank Dodson also had a fantastic year in the batter’s box hitting six home runs during the regular season.
“As disappointing as it is losing out in the West Final I think you take a step back and look at what we were able to accomplish as a team,” Chatwood said.
“We were in a battle for first place in the division from day one of the season. It was an exciting year and we had some guys that had some outstanding summers. We had a really great group of guys that really appreciated Sylvan Lake and how they were treated.”
The season passes by so fast that Chatwood said they weren’t ready for it to be over but the team will now take some time away before starting to build again for next season.
The Gulls are hoping to return most of their “core group” again for next season but will lose a few players.
Both Jonah Weisner, who was an all-star this year, and veteran Tyler McWillie will not be back due to graduating from the league.
“I expect it to be similar to this year. I think we’ll return a very solid core group of guys,” he said.
“Obviously, we have a couple of guys who are graduating and moving on. It’ll be really hard to replace those types of players and their experience but that’ll be something we’ll look for in our recruiting this year.”
Chatwood is already excited for next season and wanted to thank Gulls fans for all their support this year.
“We love playing for our fans at home and we appreciate their support. You can always feel the energy at our field when they’re there.”