Chuckers Season Ends 2-2 at Provincials
Posted August 5, 2013
After wrapping up the League Championship with a 32-7 record, the Bantam AAA Chuckers headed to Kamloops to battle the top five teams in the province at the 2013 Bantam AAA Provincials.
The new "meaningful game" format for the first time grouped the top five finishers in Bantam AAA league play in one pool, while teams 6-10 played in a totally separate pool. Nicknamed the "Death Pool", there was only one win separating Richmond, Vancouver and Cloverdale in the standings, with the other two teams, Tri-City and Abbotsford, not too far behind.
Against one another, the top 5 teams were almost dead even, with the Chuckers posting a 7-5 record, Vancouver, Cloverdale and Tri-City at 6-6, and Abbotsford at 5-7. There was no margin for error in this grouping, and every game was a pressure cooker.
In game one on Thursday morning Richmond beat Tri-City by a 6-2 score. Tyler Hoefer was excellent in the start, going 3 2/3, with 10 Ks, 1 BB, 1 hit, 1 run. Ryder Mavis got the win in relief with 6 K's over 3 1/3. In a harbinger of things to come, Logan Newman, Spencer Rankin and Noah Or hit home runs to drive the offense.
Later that day the Chuckers had the uenviable task of facing the second-place Cloverdale Spurs, playing their first game of the tournament. The second game of the day is always tough in any scenario, especially when you have to face a high-quality, rested opponent. The task proved too much as Cloverdale's ace was lights out, with the Chuckers coming out on the wrong end of a 6-3 score. Logan Newman continued to elevate his game going 3-for-4, while Noah Or was 2-for-4 playing a gritty game behind the plate. Nathan Nerona came in and threw three shutout relief innings with 6 K's to keep the game close.
Friday's game had the Chuckers face a talented Abbotsford squad. The league's top defensive teams set up for what looked to be a great ball game. However in a cruel twist, the concern many had coming into the tournament came to the forefront as the heat of the interior, combined with the short fences of the fields, turned the game into a version of "home run derby" resembling little the game of baseball for which this top-tier division is known. The final, after 36 hits including seven home runs, was 16-15 for Abbotsford. Spencer Rankin hit a bottom-of-the-7th grand slam to get Richmond within one run, but that was where it ended.
After watching the morning game between Vancouver and Cloverdale end in a 15-14 slugfest, both teams should have taken the field with trepidation, knowing that the ball was carrying and the small fields had no chance of keeping them in the yard. After the 16-15 Abbotsford win, Vancouver and Tri-City then stepped onto the launching pad for their afternoon tilt. True to form, three hours and over 300 pitches later this one ended with another non-baseball score of 18-17.
After two days of "baseball" at the tournament, nearly 50 home runs had been hit, and in Friday's games on this one diamond alone, there were 95 runs scored for a questionable average of over 30 runs per game.
After the loss to Abbotsford, Richmond now faced a must-win scenario to try and escape Pool A with a 2-2 record. The Vancouver Mounties had won all three of their round robin game already, so entering this game were looking to save some pitching for the playoffs. The Chuckers took advantage of the circumstances and ran up a 23-1 score that included two grand-slams (from Noah Or and Tyler Hoefer) in a 12-run third inning. Once again the result was less than representative of what one would expect at a top-tier provincial championship event.
With a 2-2 record Richmond now had to hope Tri-City could knock off Abbotsford in the final round robin game to allow the Chuckers to get through the tie-break scenario. Tri-City gave it a good run but could not beat Abbotsford's ace coming back on two days rest, dropping a 6-5 count. The result ended the Chuckers hopes of making the playoff round.
The Chuckers would like to thank the many volunteers from Kamloops Minor Baseball Association for hosting a well run and organized event, the BC Minor and Baseball BC officials who spent their weekend at the fields, and the many umpires who stepped into many competitive and often heated battles over the course of the tournament.
Despite the disappointing end to the season, the Chuckers coaches are proud of the team's accomplishments (2nd place finish at the 12-team RCBA tournament, tournament champions at the Best of the West KR3 tournament, and the first place league title). Player development was again prominent for the program as several players received invitations to the BC Prospects camp and selections to Team BC squads. Our graduating players are headed on and up to the next level, and we are confident they have the skills to succeed. Our returning players gained a ton of experience as first-year Bantams and will now carry forward as the team leaders.
Next up: Fall Ball 2013. More information will be posted on the website shortly.