The Vernon Canadians used wildcard weekend to improve their final standing by three placings in the B.C. Midget AAA Baseball League.
The C’s went into the wildcard tournament in Tri Cities ranked 14th and ended up 11th after falling 4-2 to the Aldergrove Dodgers in Sunday’s first final.
The Tri Cities Indians outlasted the C’s 15-10 in the second final after earlier grounding the Indians 5-3 and shading the Cowichan Valley Mustangs 2-1.
“I cannot express how grateful I am to have such excellent young men be so committed to playing this great sport so hard for myself and the other coaches,” said Ken Liefke, assisted by Al McNiven and Terry McCaffrey with Terry Chudyk as GM.
“They gave us everything they had and I made some of them play in positions they were not accustommed to, throughout the year, and they did it willingly. We struggled throughout the regular season and they hung in there.”
Tyler Wellman pitched six innings, fanned six and gave up four earned runs in the loss to Aldergrove. Catcher Garner Chudyk hit his first triple of the year and was ejected moments later after a collision at the plate.
Wellman and Brayden Damini each produced one single and one walk.
Tri Cities took the final wildcard playoff spot by busting open a 10-10 tie with five runs in the sixth.
“By this point, both teams were exhausted and it was pretty sloppy baseball,” said Liefke.
Kadyn Thomas started and hurled two innings, allowing seven runs – three earned – with two punchouts. Kyle Ciurka pitched three innings in relief giving up earned runs before Cory Anderson handled the final inning, allowing five runs.
Tyler Liefke went 2-for-4 with a walk, two runs and four stolen bases, while Dylan Emmons went 3-for-4 with a double and six swiped bags. Falcon Thomas was 1-for-2 with two walks, three runs and two stolen bases.
Emmons went the full seven innings as Vernon stopped Tri Cities in their opener. He struck out eight and issued two walks while allowing one earned run.
Liefke was 3-for-4 with two runs and four stolen bases, while Chudyk was 1-for-3 with a two-run single and Ethan Huizinga was 1-for-3 with an RBI.
Damini recorded a complete-game, one-hitter against Cowichan.
Anderson was 1-for-2 with a walk and RBI, while Thomas was 1-for-3, got hit by a pitch, and swiped one base. Noah Foufoulas was 1-for-2 with a single.
Cowichan was up 1-0 going into the bottom of the sixth when Vernon loaded the bases and Cowichan’s pitcher walked Anderson and Liefke.
“I am so proud of these guys, for a first-year team in AAA, it was a very successful season,” said coach Liefke. “We are losing a few key players but have a excellent group of Bantams moving up next year.”
to fill the voids. I want to wish Dylan, Garner and Brayden the best of luck as they are off to college in the fall.”