Thunder baseball team battle way to bronze medal

The Penticton Thunder AAA mosquito U11 team returned home with bronze medals

THE PENTICTON THUNDER AAA mosquito under-11 baseball team won bronze at provincials in West Kelowna. The Thunder team is as follows — front row (left to right) Carson Burnett. Second row: Nate Weber

THE PENTICTON THUNDER AAA mosquito under-11 baseball team won bronze at provincials in West Kelowna. The Thunder team is as follows — front row (left to right) Carson Burnett. Second row: Nate Weber

The Penticton Thunder AAA mosquito under-11 baseball team got revenge while winning bronze at provincials in West Kelowna over the weekend.

The Thunder faced a familiar opponent in the Tsawwassen A’s, who defeated them earlier in the season in Cloverdale tournament. Using their “Thunder Defence,” great pitching and timely hitting, the Thunder routed the A’s 8-1.

The Thunder secured their spot in the semifinals by defeating the No. 1 Lower Mainland seed, Aldergrove Dodgers, who were 9-1 in their regular season.

The Thunder used a strategy of pitching around the Dodgers best hitter, which worked until the bottom of the sixth. The Dodgers loaded the bases while trailing 6-1 and got to within a run after hitting a grand slam. The Thunder brought in closer Logan Goodwin who struck out a Dodger batter to secure the win.

“There are no superstars on our team, there is no one who the other team needs to pitch around to beat us because we beat our opponents as a team with good pitching, incredible defence, and scrappy hitting and base running,” said Thunder coach Rob Burnett. “Small ball, as one of the other coaches called it.”

The Thunder opened provincials by winning the skills competition and used their defence to win two of three skills contests. The Thunder then faced the Coquitlam/Moody Reds, the eventual gold medal winners, in 35 degree heat. After leading 3-0 and 6-3, the Thunder lost 10-6 after a tough call by the official, which impacted the players morale.

Still dejected from the previous loss, the Thunder needed a pep talk from their coaches which sparked a come-from-behind 13-12 win.

Against the Campbell River Tyees, the Island’s No.1 seed on July 30, the Thunder won 8-0. Their defence was strong and Mason Sherburne struck out eight batters in 5.1 innings pitched.

“At the start of the season our goal was to win the provincial championship, and although we fell short of that goal we can hold our heads high knowing that we went to provincials and ended with a 4-2 record and the bronze medal,” said Burnett, who thanked his assistant coaches Paul Foreman and John Weber for their help. “The only two teams we lost to played in the gold medal game against one another.  Along the way the team learned a lot about hard work, dedication, believing in yourself and your teammates, and playing baseball the right way.”

Tigers go winless, but gain valuable experience

The South Okanagan Minor Baseball Association Tigers under-13 peewee A team went 0-4 at provincials in Mission over the weekend.

The Tigers opened with a 16-4 loss to the Surrey Canadian Cubs, then lost 10-2 to the Salmon Arm Reds, 14-3 to the Chilliwack Cougars and ended with a 12-8 loss to the Mission Twins.

“Our team had moments of brilliance with each player enjoying highlight-reel types of plays, including a monster, two-run homerun, followed by executing a rare triple-play in the bottom of that same inning,” said Tigers coach James Raymond. “I was very happy with their efforts and tenacity overall.”

DAYNE RAYMOND of the South Okanagan Minor Baseball Association Tigers under-13 peewee A team connects on this pitch in provincial championship action in Mission. Raymond had a strong championship and earned a game most valuable player award.

Raymond said baseball is a game of mistakes and when you face the best in B.C., the team that capitalizes on the most mistakes, and makes the fewest, usually wins.

The Tigers saw very few errors from their opponents who capitalized on every opportunity against the Tigers. Raymond said game results were quickly forgotten by most of his players.

“These are young players who still see the game as fun and exciting,” he said. “While going winless was hard to accept for them, they kept the focus on being there and having fun with their teammates. After it was all said and done, the players got over the losses and soaked up every ounce of fun there was to be offered.

“Most ball players don’t have the opportunity to play at provincials,” he added. “The experience of being there with nine other great baseball teams may never be presented again. The boys were lucky enough to play against the best baseball teams the province has to offer at this level.”