It’s been several seasons since Comox Blizzard baseball stormed across Vancouver Island ball diamonds. But last week three former Blizz players and Comox Valley Baseball Association Cardinals’ alumnae were representing B.C. at the Canada Cup in Moncton, N.B.
Bryan Pawlina (Courtenay), Clayton Isherwood (Van Anda) and Josh Croft (Powell River), all members of the Parksville Royals of the Premier Baseball League, helped Team BC earn a bronze medal at the high-calibre tournament.
Canadian Junior national team member Isherwood anchored the pitching staff while Bryan Pawlina joined the pitching staff after a breakthrough season with the Royals. Croft is a former Blizz shortstop who played third and pitched relief for B.C. at the Canada Cup.
The tourney is the premier venue for choosing players to be invited to try out for the Canadian Junior National Team. It is for 16-17 year olds, with each province and the host city providing teams.
Chris Kenny of the CVBA notes Isherwood played for the 2007 CVBA PeeWee Cardinals where he and Pawlina were picked up by Team BC and won gold at the 2007 PeeWee Tier II Western Canadians.
In 2008, all three played for the Comox Blizzard with Isherwood being picked up by Team BC which won the Bantam Nationals. Isherwood was also named Rookie of
the Year (2010) and Pitcher of the Year (2011) in the BCPBL.
Pawlina played all his minor ball in the CVBA before joining the Royals. Also competing at the Canada Cup was Andrew Kotscherofski on Team Alberta who practised and played exhibitions with the Blizz in 2008. “We may not be playing anymore but we are well represented,” Kenny said.
Isherwood tossed a two-hit 10-strikeout, one walk 4-0 shutout over Alberta on opening day Wednesday. The two-time defending champions kept it going Thursday with wins of 4-3 over Ontario in the morning and 8-3 over Quebec in the evening. Things switched around Friday as B.C. fell 8-6 to Ontario in the morning and 10-8 to Quebec in the evening.
A 5-3 win over Alberta on Saturday morning clinched B.C. a spot in the medal round, where they lost a 7-6 heartbreaker to Saskatchewan in the Sunday afternoon seminfinals.
B.C. led 6-4 after four innings but Saskatchewan scored three in the top of the fifth then hung on. Showing their character, Team BC quickly regrouped (they were back on the field 90 minutes after the semi finished) and one-hit Manitoba 4-0 to take third place. Ontario edged Saskatchewan 3-2 for the gold.
“It was shaping up for awhile to be an Ontario-B.C.
title match with Isherwood against Cal Quantril, who is ex-Blue Jays’ pitcher Paul Quantril’s son, but alas it did not happen,” Kenny said. “Paul is also the Team Canada pitching coach,” noted Kenny. “Still they did good and I’m proud to be a small part of their development,” added Kenny, a longtime coach with both the Blizzard and Cardinals.
“Keep your eye out for Isherwood’s name in the 2012 MLB Draft. (I’m) pretty sure he’ll become the sixth Blizzard to be drafted.” Previous picks include Taylor Green 2005 Milwaukee, Carter Bell 2008 San Francisco and 2011 Arizona, Mark Hardy 2010 San Diego, Ethan Stewart 2010 Philadelphia, and Paul Barton