A team of young White Rock ball players are the best in the west, after taking top spot at 13U National Western Championships last weekend in Brandon, Man.
The White Rock squad earned gold with a 7-3 victory over Alberta’s No. 1 seed, St. Albert, in the championship game Sunday.
White Rock – who were the lone B.C. representatives at the eight-team event – went undefeated at the tournament. They beat the hosts from Brandon in the semifinal, by a 6-2 score, and also won all three round-robin games, against Manitoba’s Oildome, Saskatoon and Red Deer.
As was the case for much of the summer season, pitching and defence – as well as timely hitting – led to the team’s success in Brandon, coach Todd Nadon told Peace Arch News.
“All around, I think our pitching was really the class of the tournament… it was terrific. In the five games, we only gave up only 14 runs – less than three a game – so that’s what really carried us,” he said.
“And then we’ve always been a pretty good hitting team, too.”
White Rock qualified for Westerns after a second-place finish at a Baseball BC provincial tournament earlier this month. In that tourney, White Rock lost to Burnaby in the championship game, which sent Burnaby on to U13 nationals, and White Rock to westerns.
In the championship tilt against St. Albert, White Rock made the most of its five base hits, scoring seven runs. They were also helped out by a trio of St. Albert fielding errors. Nick Liu led the B.C. squad with a two-run home run in the first inning, while James Lawson also had a double in the win. Ben McKinnon also chipped in with two hits, a run scored and a run-batted-in.
On the mound, Lawson started the game, striking out five Alberta batters in four innings while not allowing a hit, before he was relieved by Cardel Dick, who also struck out five batters over the final three frames, allowing one hit.
“It was a good way to finish off a season, with a win like that,” Nadon said.
“And being in Manitoba, playing a bunch of teams we’d normally never see, it was a great experience for all the kids.”
At the conclusion of the tournament, White Rock’s Jaron Palaschuk was named the event’s top batter. In five games, he went nine-for-15 at the plate – for a .600 batting average – and hit four doubles, a triple and a home run. He never struck out over the course of the five games, and also stole five bases.
The White Rock Tritons’ under-18 team finished fifth at national midget championships in Fort McMurray, Alta. last week.
The Tritons finished with a 3-3 win-loss record. In their first game, on Aug. 16, they lost 5-0 to Quebec, but rallied one day later to shut out Saskatchewan 8-0. Later that same day, they bumped their record to 2-1 with an 6-4 victory over New Brunswick.
On Aug. 18, the B.C. reps lost twice – first a 6-5 loss to the eventual champion London Badgers of Ontario, followed by a 12-2 defeat to Alberta. The Tritons wrapped up the tournament Sunday with a 4-0 win over Saskatchewan.
The Tritons – who missed the BC Premier Baseball League playoffs this season – were playing without a number of key veterans who had to head south for the start of their college baseball careers, but the roster was buoyed by the addition of a handful of new players, some from other PBL teams, and one, White Rock pitcher Matt Wilkinson, from the Okotoks Dawgs baseball academy in Alberta.
White Rock qualified for nationals after winning a provincial tournament in South Surrey in mid-July.