Calvin Walker of the Kamloops River Dogs slips safely into first base as Morgan Hackman of the Vernon Canadians prepares to make the catch in 11U AAA baseball action Saturday at Lakeview Park. (Lisa Mazurek/Morning Star)

Canadians register exhibition split

Preparing to host provincial 11U AAA baseball playdowns

The AAA Tier II Vernon Canadians warmed up for the upcoming provincials by splitting a Saturday exhibition twin bill at Lakeview Park.

The Canadians, who host the 10-team B.C. playdowns, Aug. 3-5, fell 6-2 to the Tier 1 Kamloops Riverdogs before dispatching the Penticton Tigers 14-3.

The Canadians loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the sixth but were stymied by tough Kamloops pitching. Tied 1-1 after one inning, the Riverdogs pulled away for good with two runs in the second inning off of a home run to left field by Jayce Matkowski on a 3-2 count.

The Riverdogs followed with three more runs in the fourth inning with Nash Pearse and Matowski each producing RBI. Jace Koskimaki started on the Dawgs’ mound. He surrendered two runs on three hits over four innings, striking out six.

Jordan Herrington started on the hill for the Cs. He allowed five hits and three runs over two innings, striking out four and walking one. Kaleb Murray threw four innings in relief, allowing three runs. Pearce went deep in the fourth inning.

Vincent Sanfilippo, Darius Szwed, and Jonah Lee each had hits for Vernon.

In Game 2 against Tier II Penticton, Murray was bad news for the Tigers by driving in seven runs on three hits. Murray smacked a two-run dinger to right field in the first, three runs on a towering tater to centre in the third, and two more on a single in the fifth.

The Canadians scored four runs in the fifth inning with Murray, Morgan Hackman, and Everett Brown each knocking in runs. Drew Christensen started on the bump and went two innings, allowing zero runs on one hit and striking out three. Jonah Lee went two innings, allowing three runs, and Hackman pitched two lights-out 1-2-3 innings to close things out. Brodie Kenney was on the mound for Penticton. He pitched one and one-third innings, allowing three hits and six runs while striking out two. Jonah Tonhauser, Ty Belanger and Dex Materi each contributed in relief.

Devin Sorensen stroked a three-run inside-the-park rap in the second inning as the Cs racked up 10 hits. Penticton was sure-handed in the field and didn’t commit a single error.

The Canadians were coming off of a stellar performance at the prestigious Sussex Tournament in Kamloops over the Canada Day Weekend, finishing first in their pool with wins over Prince George AAA Tier I, Kamloops AAA Tier II, and Red Deer’s top AAA squad.

The tournament was rained out and shut down on playoff Monday for only the second time in over 30 years, however, and Vernon’s semifinal battle with the Parkland Twins (Spruce Grove) never materialized.

“We have been playing great baseball,” said Canadians’ coach Nathan Lee. “The boys have been working hard to put up quality at-bats every time at the plate and our pitching has been solid over the past two weekends. We have a group of boys that love baseball and it is showing in how they are playing the game. It sure has been fun watching these boys perform after all of the hard work they have been putting in at practice.”

Up next for the Canadians will be the Valley of Champions Tournament in Kelowna. Vernon opens against Kelowna AAA Tier I at 8 a.m, Friday followed by a showdown with Victoria AAA Tier I at 3:30. On Saturday, the C’s face Ridge Meadows (1 p.m.) and Salmon Arm (6 p.m.). All games will be at Edith Gay Park in Rutland.

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