The Comox Valley Bantam A Cardinals took top spot at the Burnaby Minor Baseball Association Summer Tournament, the last tune-up before the Island championships and a possible provincial berth.
The Cards began Friday afternoon and, despite a good pitching performance from starter Ben Swing and outstanding catches by John Murray, they did not play sharp and dropped an 8-4 decision to the Vernon Canadians.
On Friday night the locals faced the Richmond Chuckers. The Cardinals got great pitching from starter Haydyn Kierstead and reliever Brayden Baker and dominated offensively, taking the game 11-2.
On Saturday morning a match-up against the Abbotsford Angels would decide the playoff fate for both teams. Once again solid pitching from starter Jackson Mayhew, middle relief from Trevor Pruden, and closer Ryan Stich, propelled the Cardinals to a 4-3 victory, second place in pool B and a berth in Sunday’s semifinal game against #1 in pool A.
Sunday’s semi saw pitted the Valley boys against perennial provincial powerhouse Cloverdale Spurs. The Cards jumped out to a 3-0 lead early, and then added to it with a solo shot by starting pitcher Stich.
In the fourth the Spurs started to claw back and had tied it up 4-4 by the sixth. With two outs and runners on second and third in the bottom of the sixth, left fielder Shane Lapp made a great catch on a gap shot that would have given the Spurs the lead.
Going into the seventh inning the game was tied 4-4. The Cards got the go-ahead run in the top half via a hit, a stolen base and a two-out RBI single. The Spurs came out in the bottom of the seventh needing a run to send the game to extras and two for the win.
Stich finished an outstanding pitching performance, leaving the game on maximum pitch count with two outs on ground balls to second baseman Duncan Harvey and a runner on. Kierstead came on in relief, where he walked the Spurs clean-up hitter and faced the number five batter with the tying run on third and the winning run on second. The count went full before the Cardinal closer struck out the Spurs hitter, giving the locals a 5-4 victory and a berth in the tournament final.
In the final the Cards faced the unbeaten Vernon Canadians, who had defeated them in the opener. On the back of a strong complete game by starter Baker, great fielding by Reid Cochrane and Jonah Silas-Hill and an onslaught at the plate, including homers by Caleb Dolman and Jackson Mayhew, the Comox Valley team took advantage of a tired Vernon pitching staff and went on to a 15-3 mercy rule victory.
MVPs for the individual tournament games were John Murray, Trevor Pruden, Ryan Stich, and Brayden Baker.
The Cardinals hosted the zone playoffs July 27-28 but were unable to snag a berth to the provincials. The team thanks their sponsor ReMax Ocean Pacific.
– ReMax Ocean Pacific Realty Bantam A Cardinals