Mark Brett/Western News Under the watchful eyes of “Albie” Lopez, a Major League Baseball World Series winning pitcher at a Big League Experience Baseball camp Penticton Tigers Ben Avila demonstrates his throwing style.

Tigers get lessons from former pro baseball player

Penticton Tigers U15 AA baseball team is competing at the provincial tournament in Richmond

The Penticton SOMBA Tigers had a slight hiccup but regained their winning form on opening day of the East Provincial pool AA U15 baseball tournament in Ladner Wednesday.

They played the Vancouver Minor Canadians in the first game, a team they had defeated in all three regular season games, but wound up on the short end of a 4-2 score.

The squad got the sticks going again in the second contest of the day blanking of the North Shore Knights 12-0.

“We ran into a really good pitcher and just didn’t get any bounces,” said coach Iain MacIntyre about the loss. “In our second game Khy Cutler hit a monstrous three-run home run and Zack Reigler pitched a complete game shutout, great bounce back win for the boys.”

Kaiden Skode was the MVP in the match against the Canadians.

The remaining games in their pool schedule were Thursday afternoon (after press deadline) against Carnarvon of Victoria and another afternoon match Friday against the Kamloops River Dogs.

The pool playoffs are Saturday, and on Sunday the winners of the east and west will meet at North Blundell Park In Richmond to determine the provincial champion.

Winner of that game will go on to compete in the season-ending San Diego Summer Sizzle tournament.

As part of the preparation work for the provincial championships the Tigers enlisted the services of the Oliver-based, Big League Experience team last weekend.

That included the likes of World Series winning pitcher Albert Anthony “Albie” Lopez and Milwaukee Brewers scout Marty Lehn who operates the Oliver-based Big League baseball camps.

“Awesome, unbelievable, we couldn’t have asked for any better preparation going into the provincial tournament,” said MacIntyre, whose club finished in second place in the 21-team B.C. Baseball league regular season standings. “Those two (Lopez and Lehn) are first class guys, know their stuff and are just really good at getting their message across.

“It was fun watching the kids and how they were reacting to them, they were just zoned right in and hanging on every word they were saying.”

For his part, Lopez, who was a member of the 2001 World Series Championship Arizona Diamondbacks, is still living his dream.

“It’s just giving back to the kids, watching the kids’ eyes as they look at me. Their eyes are wide open and any kind of information I can give them, they’re just so happy to get.

“I love it, I call myself a ‘lifer.’ I’m in this game for the rest of my life.”

As usual, one of the highlights of his visit to any young team is taking out the little cloth pouch from his duffle bag that contains the 14 karat, diamond studded, World Championship ring.

“Oh man that’s the ultimate prize, it gives them something to shoot for, they love it,” said Lopez.

Related: Tigers blot out Sun Devils

Heading into the provincials MacIntyre was confident about his team’s chances based on their play during the regular season.

“They’re a pretty relaxed group so that’s a good thing. They don’t tend to get too uptight,” he said, describing the first game against Vancouver as the toughest of the pool. “We beat them three times (in the regular season) but they were close games. They’re a good team, well coached and tough to beat.

“You have to forget everything else we’ve done. Today is a new day and a new season.”

Related: Tigers on the hunt for first

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Under the watchful eyes of “Albie” Lopez, a Major League Baseball World Series winning pitcher at a Big League Experience Baseball camp Penticton Tigers Ben Avila demonstrates his throwing style. Mark Brett/Western News

Mark Brett/Western News Penticton Tigers Ben Avila gets a closeup look at the World Series Championship ring belonging to “Albie” Lopez at a weekend Big League Experience Baseball camp in Penticton.

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