A quartet of White Rock Tritons – plus two more ballplayers with Semiahmoo Peninsula ties – may have a busier summer than they originally expected, after being added to Team BC’s evaluation list for the upcoming Canada Summer Games.
Four members of the BC Premier Baseball League under-18 squad – Tate Dearing, Jackson Hogg, Jared Crossley and John Vulcano – were all named to the provincial ‘watch’ list late last month, and will look to impress Team BC brass over the rest of the PBL season, which wraps up in mid-July. In addition to the four Tritons, two other South Surrey/White Rock athletes – Liam Vulcano, brother of John, and Damiano Palmegiani – are on the 30-player evaluation list.
John Vulcano and Palmegiani currently play at the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball in Alberta, and will join the Abbotsford Cardinals of the BCPBL when they return to B.C. after the school year.
The Canada Summer Games are scheduled for July 29-Aug. 8 in Winnipeg.
“They’re going to be monitored now throughout the season. Because of the scheduling of the Canada Games this year, there was just no time for a (tryout camp), but it’s nice for them – now they just get to do their own things, keep playing and trying to do well, instead of going to some (short) tryout and trying to impress them,” said Tritons head coach Kyle Dhanani.
“If they keep doing what they’re doing, I think they’ve all got a pretty good chance to make the team.”
Dhanani said all four players have varying levels of experience with provincial teams, while Dearing – a pitcher and outfielder – spent time earlier this season with Canada’s under-18 national program, before returning to the Tritons.
In eight games this year, he has pitched just three innings, but at the plate is battting .450 with two home runs, five runs-batted-in and two stolen bases.
“Now that Tate is back, he just provides us with a real offensive spark,” Dhanani said.
Hogg – like his older brother Allan – has proved to be something of a Swiss Army knife for Dhanani’s crew, able to play both infield and outfield positions, and hit anywhere in the batting order.
“Jackson has played all over and he just does his job no matter where we put him in the lineup,” the coach said.
In 27 games this year, Hogg is hitting .384 with 15 RBI and eight stolen bases.
Crossley, meanwhile, is one of White Rock’s top “energy guys,” Dhanani said. Typically hitting lead-off for the Tritons – who sit seventh in the PBL with a 15-12 win-loss record – the young infielder has shown a knack for getting on base; he is hitting .427 with 12 stolen bases and 16 walks thus far this year.
“He gets on base any way he can,” Dhanani said. “He’ll hit, he’ll take his walks, and then really try to put pressure on the defence.”
John Vulcano has been something of a pleasant surprise for the U18 squad this year, considering he is junior-aged and was expected to play this spring with the U16 Junior Tritons.
“He came on at the start of the season and filled in when we had some injuries, and he performed really well at shortstop,” Dhanani said. “He’s almost at the 20-game mark with us… he’ll stay with us the rest of the season.
“He’s having a nice year, and he’s young – he’s got a really good future ahead of him.”
The good news from Tritons’ headquarters doesn’t stop with the Team BC announcement, either. Three of the team’s veteran players – “They’re the old guys,” Dhanani quipped – have inked post-secondary scholarship deals in recent weeks.
Allan Hogg signed with Indian Hills Junior College in Iowa; Travis Klein will play next season at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, while Spencer Davis – a Saskatchewan native who, with one year of eligibility in the PBL, came west in an attempt to secure a scholarship – recently signed with Monterey Peninsula College in California.
“We’re really proud of all guys who’ve already signed and we’re looking forward to watching them progress in their careers,” said Dhanani, adding he wouldn’t be surprised to see a few more Tritons players ink scholarships before the summer is over.
Of the three scholarship players, Hogg has been the most prominent this season for the Tritons, serving as one of the team’s top pitchers and batters. He leads the team in innings pitched, with 32, in strikeouts, with 48, and is tied with Evan Lane for the team-lead in wins, with three. He is also fourth on the team with a .375 batting average and third in stolen bases, with nine.
On the subject of steals, Dhanani pointed to the team’s leader in that category – centre-fielder Cole Walter – as being one of the team’s most improved players of late, along with Keith Manby and Georgi Sugimoto.
“Cole and Keith were guys who were struggling a bit at the start of the year but they’re really coming around. Keith filled in at catching for us for a while… and his pitching is really starting to come as well. He’s had back-to-back double-digit strikeout (games) for us,” Dhanani said.
“And Cole is just a really strong on-base guy. He’s been an all-around bulldog – that’s his nickname.”
Sugimoto, meanwhile, “quietly does his thing,” according to the first-year head coach. Serving as a pitcher and outfielder, he is third on the team in RBI.
Dhanani said they’ll need contributions from those three – as well as others – if they are to make a strong push for a playoff spot over the next few weeks. After a strong start to the season, they’ve lost three straight, including a Tuesday night loss to the Langley Blaze.
“We’re in the middle of a bit of a lull, but we’ll keep moving forward and we should put together a good couple weeks here,” he said.
“We’re just going to worry about our own game and let the standings kind of take care of themselves, and not worry too much.”
White Rock hosts the Victoria Eagles for two games Saturday afternoon at South Surrey Athletic Park.