Luc Gilbert practises his throwing during the Mosquito Division baseball evaluations held at Lakeview Park on Sunday. (Lisa Mazurek/Morning Star)

Major double-dip for Vernon ball

Provincial championships set for August

Vernon and Coldstream will host a pair of provincial minor baseball championships this summer.

The tournaments come at a time when Vernon Baseball registration numbers are strong with 420 members, including a record total of Bantam Division players (14-16-year-olds).

New president Michael Sanfilippo is ecstatic about holding the B.C. Mosquito AAA Tier 2 and Pee Wee AAA tournaments, Aug. 2-5 at Lakview and Creekside Parks.

“We submitted the bid last October and that was our second year in a row trying for the provincials,” said Sanfilippo. “This is great news for Vernon Baseball. There will be 10 teams in each tournament so we will be looking for volunteers, from people doing pitch counts to selling 50-50 tickets. It’s a big deal for Vernon because there will be 250 players and their families in town. Every hotel is going to get some business.”

Most Vernon and Coldstream diamonds are sparkling with updated dugouts and two batting cages, one outside at Creekside and one indoor at Marshall Field. The dugouts were built at Lakeside Park, where Mosquito (10-11-year-olds) ball is played.

“That (indoor) cage was in integral part of us getting awarded provincials,” said Sanfilippo. “Almost every division was getting use of it over the winter.”

Tournament co-ordinators will be needed. Anyone wishing to volunteer is urged to e-mail Sanfilippo at president@vernonbaseball.com.

There are eight teams registered in Mosquito and five at the Pee Wee level this season. The AA interlock team gets an automatic berth in provincials.

A big increase in Bantam will see one AA travel side and three A teams playing an interlock schedule.

There are eight teams in the grassroots T-Ball program and 10 teams in Tadpole (8-9-year-olds).

Derek McPherson is coach of the Midget AAA entry in the B.C. League. That club makes six trips to the coast.

Sanfilippo takes over as president of Vernon Baseball from Mark Batchelor, who spent the past 15 years boosting the association in several ways.

“I was born in Milwaukee so I’m a die-hard Brewers fan,” smiled Sanfilippo. “There is always a ball game on in our house. We watch 5,000 games a year.”

Sanfilippo and his wife Shannon have four kids. They moved to Vernon five years ago when Michael took the GM position with Kohler-Hytec in Spallumcheen.

Sons Vincent, 10, and Anthony, eight, are both in minor ball. Daughters Gianna, six, and Cecilia, three, are being groomed with grounders in the frontyard.

Batchelor will stay on as past president alongside Sanfilippo with Neil Thompson as vice-president. Under Batchelor’s leadership, minor baseball grew from 250 to 420 in the last three years.

“It’s great to have Mike on board; he’s very organized and he loves baseball,” said Batchelor. “I have to give a huge thank you to Carl Vardon for the huge work he did over the last 15 years. The whole executive helped us do some good things. We put the cages in and resurfaced infields at Creekside, built the indoor cage at Marshall and put in bullpens and dugouts at Lakeside. Those are accomplishments I’m very happy about.

“The people at the City of Vernon and the District of Coldstream bent over backwards to help us.”

The annual Photo Day and Bottle Drive Fundraiser is Saturday, May 12 at Lakeview Park. There will be Mosquito Division games and other activities for the entire family. The concession with be serving pizza, snacks and refreshments.

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