It was the best James Raymond had seen the Penticton Thunder peewee AA U13 baseball team play.
Even though they lost the championship game of the Interior Region playoff 7-6 in three extra innings to Kamloops 1 River Dogs in the 10th inning at Kiwanis Field on Father’s Day.
“They were absolutely fantastic. The pitching was on. The hitting was there. The defence was amazing, absolutely amazing,” said Raymond, coach of the Thunder.
The game slipped through their fingers on a pickoff attempt at the top of the 10th when their first baseman couldn’t quite snag the throw. That allowed the runner to make it all the way to third and eventually score. Thunder pitcher Cody Thompson was upset about the play but he was able to compose himself and get the outs needed following some encouraging words from Raymond.
“They are a high intensity group. They compete hard,” said Raymond. “When things don’t roll out the way they want them to, they get down on themselves, but they bounce back so quick. They are such a resilient group of kids. They lift each other up every time.”
Jack MacIntosh of the Thunder said they had their chances.
“We just couldn’t quite pull them out,” he said.
Being loud and positive from the dugout throughout the tournament was key for the Thunder. Jack MacIntosh said if they weren’t like that they would not have done as well as they did.
“Our team motto is never give up. That’s exactly what we did,” he said. “We just didn’t come out with the win.”
In a back-and-forth affair Raymond said and Kamloops was a classy team to play.
“They absolutely bring our team to the very top, they elevate our game,” he said.
Dayne Raymond was named the Thunder’s most valuable player in the championship game. Dayne caught the entire game, which the coach said is rare at this level. During the match he threw out two runners and connected for a few hits. The Thunder opened with a 15-0 win over Kelowna, then edged the West Kelowna Diamond Backs 9-8. They cruised past the Vernon Canadians 1 18-7 to advance to the final. The Thunder finished second in the Interior Division and now look to build the momentum into the summer season with a push to advance to provincials.
In other South Okanagan Minor Baseball Association action, the bantam AA Tigers won three of four games. They opened the weekend settling for a split with North Shore, winning the first game 9-6, then lost the second match 6-3. On Sunday, the Tigers swept Kelowna 11-5 and 13-0. Against Kelowna, Marlo Spence pitched a full game, while Michael Weibe nearly did the same in the other game. Dexter Madsen came in to relieve and earn the save in the seventh inning. Matt Olsen had a solid weekend at the plate, with one of his hits being a triple.