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Vernon baseball teams hosting B.C. championships

The B.C. 11U and 13U AAA finals will be held at Lakeview and Creekside Parks, respectively
Vernon Canadians 11U players Dariusz Szwed (at left, from left), Everett Brown and Drew Christensen practice hitting off the tee at Lakeview Park Monday in preparation for the B.C. Mosquito championships starting Friday. Canadians 13U manager Lance Johnson (at right, decked out in umpire’s gear for a simulated game) discusses preparations for the provincial Pee Wee finals which begin today. The B.C. Mosquito championships are at Lakeview Park; the provincial Pee Wee tournament is at Creekside Park. (Roger Knox/Morning Star)

Hard-working. Coachable. Excited.

The Vernon Canadians will host 11 other teams as the B.C. U13 AAA Pee Wee Baseball Championships begin today in the friendly confines of the second smallest Pee Wee ballparks in the province, Creekside Park in Coldstream.

“We definitely know the bounces of our own park, and hopefully that will be an advantage,” said Cs’ catcher-shortstop Erik Pastro, 12, following a simulated game workout Monday.

The Canadians, who went 4-10 in the B.C. AAA League, open the tournament against Burnaby Wednesday at 9 a.m. The tournament’s opening ceremonies and skills competition go Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.

“This was the kids’ first time playing in the AAA league,” said Vernon manager Lance Johnson. “They played hard all the time and became better ball players. The competition is tough, and something they had to get used to, but they responded.

“I don’t think there’s a player on our team that has seen the level of pitching that is out there. It took awhile for them to get used to that.”

Vernon plays North Shore Thursday at 6 p.m., North Langley at 9 a.m. and Cloverdale at 6 p.m. Friday, and wrap up the preliminary round Saturday at noon against Chilliwack.

Teams in the other pool are from Abbotsford, Tri-City, Prince George, Victoria, Ladner and White Rock.

The semifinals go Sunday at 9 a.m. with the gold-medal game at 1 p.m.

“We’re really excited to be playing at home,” said Pastro. “We have good hitting, pitching, a lot of depth. We’ll be a bit nervous at first, we don’t want to make too many errors.”

BC11U AAA Championships, Friday to Sunday, Lakeview Park

The Vernon Canadians are not only the hosts for the 10-team B.C. U11 AAA Mosquito Baseball Championships this week at Lakeview Park.

They enter the tournament as Interior champions.

The Cs went 5-0 to win the Tier II Interior Zone title in Kamloops, outscoring their opponents 65-16.

“Every single boy on this team contributed to our success this weekend,” said Vernon head coach Nathan Lee. “Each win was a team effort and the boys continue to demonstrate a strong collective work ethic that is leading to success for us on the scoreboard.”

The Canadians kicked things off on Friday night with a 16-6 win over the reigning zone champs Penticton Tigers. Kaleb Murray, Dariusz Szwed and Devin Sorensen pitched for Vernon with Murray starting and throwing two shutout innings, striking out all six Tigers he faced. Jonah Lee and Jordan Herrington led the Cs with two hits each and Drew Christensen drove in three runs.

On Saturday morning, Vernon ambushed the Kelowna Sun Devils 13-3. Vincent Sanfilippo threw a gem for the Canadians, going four innings and allowing no hits while walking five. He helped himself with a towering three-run home run to put the Cs up 7-0 in the top of the third. Micah Davyduke also went deep for the Canadians with a two-run bomb to straight away centre in the top of the sixth.

The Canadians then beat Salmon Arm 14-4. Christensen started on the mound for Vernon, allowing three runs over two innings with five walks and five Ks. Jordie Brown pitched in relief, going 2.1 innings, allowing a run and striking out five. Christensen, Everett Brown, and Sorensen each had two hits.

On Sunday, Vernon faced a strong West Kelowna DBacks squad and came out on top 6-2. Murray pitched 4.2 innings, allowing two runs and striking out nine for the win. Szwed pitched 1.1 innings to close things out, striking out three.

The Cs finished with a huge no-hit 16-1 victory over Kamloops, led by outstanding pitching performances by Herrington (three innings, four Ks, two walks, one earned run) and Lee (two innings, three strikeouts, no earned runs). Lee, Murray, and Davyduke led Vernon with three hits each in the win.

The provincials at Lakeview Park kick off with the opening ceremonies on Thursday at 6 p.m., including a skills competition (baserunning, throwing, and home run derby).

“The B.C.s will be a good experience for the team,” said Canadians shortstop Jonah Lee, 11. “We’re a very aggressive team, especially at the plate, we have good approaches (to hitting). I feel like we have a good chance of winning it.”

Vernon starts the tournament on Friday at 1 p.m. when they face off against the North Delta Rays. Vernon then plays the Cloverdale Spurs at 6 p.m. On Saturday the Cs take on the Comox Jets (1 p.m.) and the North Langley Trappers (6 p.m.).

“We’re really excited to be playing at home in the provincials,” said Vernon first baseman Morgan Hackman, 10. “I don’t think nerves will be a factor in the first game. We might be off our game a little because we’re not used to all the fans and all the cheering. But we’ll get over that in a hurry. It’s important for us to get off to a good start.”

The other five-team pool features Tsawwassen, Ladner, South Okanagan Minor Baseball Association, Campbell River and West Kelowna.

Games start at 8 a.m. Friday and Saturday. The championship game is at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.


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