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Sold-out crowd greets Saskatoon Berries for first home game in franchise history

Click to play video: 'New chapter of Saskatoon baseball written with inaugural Berries home opener'
New chapter of Saskatoon baseball written with inaugural Berries home opener
WATCH: Over 2,200 fans packed into Cairns Field to take in the first home game in Saskatoon Berries history, marking a new era for WCBL baseball in the city – May 29, 2024

A first win in franchise history still eludes the Saskatoon Berries, however, they were still able to make some history on Tuesday night at Cairns Field.

In front of a sold-out crowd of more than 2,200 fans packing the stands, patios and fence lines of the ballpark, the Berries made their home debut in the Western Canadian Baseball League with a 8-4 loss at the hands of the Regina Red Sox.

“It was amazing,” Berries outfielder Nolan Sparks said. “I thought the crowd showed out well and everyone was super excited, super into it. Just sad we couldn’t get a win for the guys, but it was awesome.”

It was a game a decade in the making for the Berries, who became the first Saskatoon-based team to play a game in the WCBL since the Saskatoon Yellow Jackets folded in 2014.

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Click to play video: 'Inaugural season set to begin on the diamond for WCBL’s Saskatoon Berries'
Inaugural season set to begin on the diamond for WCBL’s Saskatoon Berries

On the mound was Saskatoon product Ryan Olchoway, given the honour of starting the first home game in franchise history, going three and two-thirds innings and allowing two earned runs while posting four strikeouts on the night.

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It was a memorable moment in his career after coming up through the Saskatoon minor baseball system.

“I thought it was a great experience,” Olchoway said. “I was honoured to be the guy to open it up. It kind of just reminded me back from high school pitching at Cairns, so it was kind of cool to be back.”

Trailing 5-1 after seven innings, Saskatoon mounted a comeback in the eighth with a trio of runs knocked in by Sparks, Carter Beck and Ethan Menard, however, the Red Sox were able to tag on three runs in the top of the ninth to secure the win.

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Regina completed the series sweep with the victory, dropping the Berries’ record to 0-3 on the season.

Beyond the win-loss column however, the Berries are optimistic that their inaugural season will create a new generation of baseball fans in the city who might one day run onto the diamond wearing purple and blue.

“To have kids kind of look up to these guys, look up to the organization and eventually want to be part of the organization, that’s what you want,” said Carnahan.

It’s something that Berries fan Russell Schneider is living firsthand, attending Yellow Jackets games as a kid and now bringing his own young family to Berries games this summer.

“It was cool to be a kid playing minor baseball and having someone to look up to,” said Schneider. “So I think this is cool for the kids to have a team like this to have something to shoot for.”

Saskatoon will now hit the road for three games in Medicine Hat and Weyburn, before returning home to Cairns Field on Saturday to kick off a two-game set with the Lethbridge Bulls.

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