The South Okanagan Minor Baseball Association midget Tigers are fighting for their playoff lives as they return to B.C. Minor Baseball under-18 league action.
With 10 games remaining on their schedule, including two in Chilliwack this weekend, the Tigers, who last played June 15 and are in eighth place, are looking to catch the Cloverdale Spurs for the seventh and final playoff spot. Tigers coach Junior Deleon said it’s going to be hard, but he believes in his team.
“I think these kids can pull it together,” he said.
With Victoria hosting provincials and sitting last in 10th place, Deleon figures the top seven teams will advance. Heading into the weekend, the Spurs are 9-16, while the Tigers are 7-16. Facing Chillwack, 21-4, won’t be an easy task. There could be another motivator for the Tigers in trying to beat Chilliwack.
“Their head coach happens to be the coach for the all-star team to go to nationals,” said Deleon. “Any kids who think they have a legitimate shot at making that team, this is a good time to show it.”
Deleon is also hoping his group can carry momentum into the weekend following a strong performance in a Spokane tournament. The Tigers hit well and if they can maintain that, Deleon said they have a good shot at winning.
“Our pitching is starting to come around,” said Deleon. “I think that will be a contributing factor. Keeping us in games a little bit longer.”
Brayden Jones said for the Tigers to be successful they need to play stronger defence and limit their errors. There is a sense among the group that the Tigers are better than their record shows and they have a thing they call an, “inning.”
“We just give up way too many runs in a certain inning,” said Deleon. “Sometimes we just dig ourselves too big of a hole to get out of. A lot of teams have that inning. For us it seems like its five or six runs.”
In other team news, the Tigers had Tyler Lemke, Taylor Kanke, Ryan Konno and Matthew Jones play in the U18 all-star game earlier this month with Team Island-Interior against Team Mainland. The game finished in a 9-9 tie. Lemke hit a double and triple in one inning. He also struck out four batters, while Kanke struck out three. Konno and Jones played two innings.
Kanke and Connor Grant made a B.C. minor baseball team under-16 selects team that traveled to San Francisco to play in a tournament.
“It was really interesting. A lot of new things that I learned at the camp,” said Kanke, who picked up tips to improve hitting, batting and fielding mechanics. I learned a lot about baseball.”
The experience helped Kanke’s confidence and he said he performed well during the tournament, in which the team lost in the semifinal.
“I feel I pitched pretty well,” he said. “Better than I have pitched this year.”
B.C. Summer Games
Brayden Jones will be playing for the Thompson-Okanagan Zone 2 team in Nanaimo July 17-20. Jones is one of 16 players who made the cut from 55. The pitcher/outfielder/first basemen is excited about being selected to play with and against other skilled players.
“It’s just going to be a good time,” said Jones. “Have fun down there and play some good teams.”