The underdog Vernon Blue Jays outlasted top-rated Rutland #1 25-21 in the Okanagan Valley Pee Wee Baseball Championships final Sunday in Salmon Arm.
Coached by Mike Lewis and Claus Larsen, the Jays went into the 16-team tournament with more season draws and losses than wins.
Undaunted, the Jays met before the game in their visitor’s dugout to run through their newly established, confidence-boosting, endorphin-releasing, pre-game routine: sharing Yo’ Momma jokes.
Falcon Thomas jumpstarted things with a monster home run, but undefeated Rutland responded and held the lead until the final inning.
Vernon got some incredible pitching by Elias Wery, Nolan Stein and Jackson Soucy.
In their last at-bat, the Jays were down three runs with two outs. Stein ignited the rally with a single, followed by a walk to Brady Horton and a single by Jacob Rawlings. The Jays continued station-to-station, until Thomas (game MVP) stroked another dinger.
Michael Preston took the mound to close the game with Soucy his wall behind the plate. Rutland managed two runs, but third baseman Katie Potts (only girl in game) caught a pop fly for the final out.
In another upset, the Jays defeated Rutland #2 12-9 in their first playoff pool game. Horton hit his first double of the season, while Stein and Preston (game MVP) each earned a triple and a double. Thomas smacked a crushing homer, while Soucy and Hayden Lewis each went 4-for-4. Aydin Croswell tripled in the winning run.
Vernon then grounded Keremeos 19-6 with Soucy taking MVP with four hits in four plate appearances. Soucy and Rawlings were stellar behind the plate, saving numerous runs.
Lewis and Wery both went 4-for-4, while Stein, Aydin Croswell and Rawlings each supplied a double and two singles. Carter Scott caught a clutch fly ball in left field.
Stein (pitching) and Soucy (catching) stopped a Keromeos player attempting to steal home for the final out, earning the Jays a ticket to the semifinals, where they edged West Kelowna 14-12.
Vernon and West Kelowna swapped runs until the final inning with Thomas and Wery marvellous on the mound, striking out West Kelowna’s key hitters.
Jon Morley pushed a double into a triple with quick feet and blind determination and Wery (game MVP) knocked in the final run.