The Vernon Canadians brushed back Cloverdale 4-2 in the finals of the Valley of Champions Bantam Baseball Tournament Sunday in West Kelowna.
Shelby Hartwig started on the mound for Vernon with the first three innings scoreless. Dylan Emmons threw out runners from third and shortstop Jake O’Quinn made a diving acrobatic catch in the fourth. Brendon Zupp turned a double-play in the mid innings.
With the game tied 1-1, Lucas Colgan earned a walk followed by Franky Gettis hitting a single advancing the runners. Mark Trznadel laid down a beautiful bunt to score Vernon’s go-ahead run in the fifth.
Cloverdale earned the tying run in the sixth with a close call at the plate. Hartwig hurled six innings and gave up one hit.
“I have never seen such a great job by a pitcher,” said Vernon coach Don Emmons. “The boys really worked hard for the title. I can’t remember a Vernon team winning the Tournament of Champions.”
It was 2-2 going into extra innings and the Canadians dug deep and didn’t let up. Tyler Doyle and Clayton Bateman shared the first base duties, with Doyle recording a great leaping catch on a high throw to get the out.
Bateman picked off a line drive for an inning-ending out, while Braden Damini was a wall behind the plate, tossing out two runners at second.
Emmons relieved Hartwig for two innings. Garner Chudyk reached first in the ninth and Zupp put a bunt down moving the runners. Emmons hit a ground ball to second with smart base running by Chudyl and Damini reaching home for the go-ahead runs.
In the bottom of the ninth, the C’s stayed on top of their game as Mitchell Lukacs caught an outfield fly, Hartwig threw out a runner from third, and with two out and a runner on first, Cloverdale popped up to Trznadel in centre.
Game MVP was Hartwig and MVP honours went to Damini for catching in four out of five games.
“Kelowna tournament organizers said they have never seen a better game. We are very proud of the boys,” said Vernon coach Drew Doyle.
Added coach Darren Zupp: “We kept our composure all weekend and played as a team.”
Vernon smothered Summerland 15-0 in their tournament opener with Doyle receiving the game MVP.
In Game 2, the Canadians rallied to defeat Victoria team 11-5 with Lukacs hitting a out of the park dinger for MVP.
The Canadians then fell 7-5 to Cloverdale with Emmons taking MVP and then finished prelminary action by ambushing Surrey 12-3 with Colgan earning MVP for pitching a few great innings.