First baseman Ryan Gamage stretched to make the tournament’s final out, according to team officials, “like mama does at yoga class.”
With the ball firmly in Gamage’s glove, a Port Coquitlam rally was snuffed out for good and gave the Vernon Kal Tire Canadians a 9-7 win in the final of the Valley of the Champions Pee Wee AA baseball tournament Sunday in Kelowna.
“The kids went 3-1 in the round robin, then won their last two games in scorching Okanagan sun Sunday,” said coach Nick Foufoulas. “It was a total team effort with all of the players contributing to a great weekend.”
Starting pitcher and game MVP Christopher McIntosh kept the final close into the third inning, giving way to reliever Braydon Beacom. The critical inning defensively was the fifth. With the bases loaded and no outs, Beacom dug deep, striking out one, tagging another trying to steal home and assisting a tag out at second base.
Chase Batchelor pitched the final two innings.
The C’s opened the tournament Friday with an 8-7 win over Kelowna. Batchelor pitched into the fifth, striking out six and allowing two runs. He also was at the plate and drew a walk-off walk with the bases loaded to bring in the winning run.
Game MVP Eric Foufoulas went 2-3, scored twice, drove in a run and played great defence. Left fielder Matthew Hansen added a “play-of-the-month-calibre” diving catch.
Ladner handed Kal Tire its only loss, a 3-2 decision Friday night.
Vernon received great pitching from Beacom and relievers Carter Morris and McIntosh. Vernon’s lone runs came off RBIs from McIntosh and Falcon Thomas. Batchelor was named game MVP.
In Saturday morning’s tilt, Gamage pitched 3 2/3 stellar innings, allowing no runs and striking out six in an 11-1 win over Prince George. At the plate, Gamage and Foufoulas each had two singles, Batchelor homered, McIntosh and Falcon Thomas each had a single and double while singles came from game MVP Jack Janzen, Nakoda Parker, Landen Harison – who made a great catch of a line drive on defence – Carter Morris and Beacom. Matthew Hansen also made a great catch for the C’s, who closed out the round-robin with a must-win 18-4 explosion over Surrey.
Parker had two hits while Batchelor had four RBIs and game MVP Harison and Thomas chipped in three ribbies apiece. Pitching duties were shared by starter Gamage, Matthew and Thomas.
Sunday’s semi-final saw Vernon claw back after trailing for five innings to ice Chilliwack 7-5.