3 FOR 3! Cardinals Take Home Their 3rd Tournament Win in as Many Tries Defeating Host Okotoks Black 4-3 in the Championship Final of the 2018 Okotoks Dawgs Canada Day Classic
Posted June 29, 2018
The West Coast Cardinals made the trip out to the wonderful Okotoks, AB to play in a 20-team tournament featuring elite Bantam AAA ballclubs from BC, AB, SK, MB and Washington. It was the tournament everyone was looking forward to all year and the boys from West Coast put on a show for the families that went along for the ride or watched from the comfort of back home. The now 42-4 Cardinals played arguably their best stretch of baseball this year in Okotoks putting up an average of over 13 runs a game and truly coming together as not just as a team but as a family.
CARDINALS 24 Lloydminster 5 (Pool Play)
After arriving in Okotoks, AB on Thursday, the West Coast Cardinals were set to kick off the hunt for their third straight tournament championship this season. The first of three pool play games was bright and early Friday morning at the softball-style Riverside Park against the Lloydminster AA Twins, located smack dab in the middle of the Alberta/Saskatchewan border. Home and away teams were to be decided by a coin flip in all pool play games, so the Cards would take the visiting first base dugout after losing the pre-game toss. The Cards’ bats would come out firing and never look back. They scored 4 runs in the top of the 1st, batting around their 10-man order in the process. Rogers was plunked to start the game, moved all the way up to third on a couple balls that evaded the Twins’ catcher, then was driven home by a Hendriks single. The pattern continued as Hendriks moved up 160 feet for free, coming home on a Tong sac fly. Lefebvre didn’t waste any time putting his mark on the game, pulverizing the first pitch fastball well over the left field fence for a monster solo shot. Yuen stepped right up and slapped a single up the middle, this time taking a little longer to score as his teammates behind him were issued free passes, eventually being forced home to cap off the four-run 1st inning. It didn’t take long for it to become apparent that the Twins’ pitching and defense were no match for the Cards’ bats on this day. In the 1st inning alone, three Cardinal hitters were hit by a pitch and another was walked. In total, Lloydminster’s pitchers walked 11 and beaned 6 – ugly to say the least. The 2nd inning was when things really got out of control, as the Cards nearly bat around their order twice, scoring a jaw-dropping 13 runs in the inning. Those arriving at the park late may have been confused since both digits couldn’t fit together on the scoreboard, instead it was constantly changing between a 1 and a 3 in the box designated for the 2nd inning. There was no mistaking the total at the very end though... 17-0 Cardinals after two painstakingly long innings.
The most frustrating part about the game arguably wasn’t even the lopsided scoreline, but in fact the umpiring, particularly in the bottom of the 3rd inning. Now 20-0 for the Cards, Maunahan was in to relief starting pitcher Waters, who was making just his third start of the season, and third start in as many weeks. It’s understandable when an umpiring crew opens up the strike zone in a 20-0 ballgame – in fact the base umpire even called in manager Yam to inform him that’s exactly what they’d be doing. Where the umps got it wrong was effectively shrinking the strike zone to the size of a catcher’s glove for the Cards’ pitchers. At this point it was a foregone conclusion that the Cards would end up on the winning end here, their goal now was to keep their runs against down to give them better seeding ahead of the top 8 bracket beginning on Sunday, and the shrunk zone wasn’t helping towards that. By no stretch did Maunahan pitch poorly in the bottom of the 3rd, but he ended up charged with 4 walks, 4 hits and 5 earned runs against in his only inning of work. Not to take anything away from the Twins’ hitters, who hit a number of balls on the screws against Maunahan – it was just something the Cards would have to live with, and thankfully didn’t really have much of an impact on the rest of the tournament. When all was said and done, the Cards mashed 19 hits in 5 innings, plating 24 runs in the process. Offensive standouts were Yuen who went 4-4 with 4 runs scored, Maunahan coming off the bench and going 3-4, and of course Lefebvre’s blast way back in the 1stinning. 24-5 was the final over Lloydminster, a 5-inning mercy and 5-innings due to the 2:15 time limit. - JO
SherwoodPark 7 CARDINALS 14 (Pool Play)
Following their opening game victory, the Cards enjoyed a delicious barbecue at the ballpark while scouting their next two opponents in the process. Sherwood Park and Sask Five Giants did battle against each other immediately afterwards on the same diamond, and it was the Giants who came away with the 3-2 extra-inning win. The A’s from Sherwood Park, located just east of Edmonton, would be tasked to rebound under the lights at Tourmaline Field after a gut-wrenching loss that saw them carry a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the 8th. The Cards won the toss this time and elected to be the home team, so starter Duncan-Wu would be the first to take the mound in this contest. He was lights out through his first two innings of work, retiring the first six batters he faced in order, three of which via the strikeout. The Cards got off to a fast start very much like this morning. Four hits and a walk amounted to a five-run 1st inning, the big hit coming from Yuen as he slapped a 2RBI double over the first baseman’s head, one of his seven hits (and one of three doubles) on the day. They tacked on another pair in the bottom of the 2nd, Duncan-Wu helping his own cause by drawing a walk and scoring on an RBI groundout, with Rogers coming in right behind him on a pass ball. The A’s got one back in the 3rd, bookending the inning with a couple of singles. Then came somewhat of a turning point in the bottom half. Lefebvre drew a walk to get things started, but he was picked off with the hit-and-run on, which appeared to be a momentum-sapping play for the Cards. They would not push one across in the inning and go down in order in the 4th, leaving the door wide open for Sherwood Park to mount an improbable comeback.
Heading into the top of the 4th, the Cards had a comfortable 7-1 lead. Before you knew it, the A’s had drawn within just one and the Cards appeared to be skating on very thin ice. Duncan-Wu put a couple runners on in the 4th with a hit-by-pitch and a walk, then two singles and an error turned it into a three-run inning. Suzuki came in to pick up the final out of the inning for the Cards and came back out for the 5th. The first batter reached on a single to right, but made it all the way to third on the play because the ball rolled right underneath the right-fielder’s glove. He’d score on an RBI groundout to make it 7-5 with two out and nobody on base. The next three batters reached with a walk, a hit and an error, an unearned run coming home in the process. Suzuki would come up big and strike out the next batter, stranding the tying run 80 ft away and escaping the inning with a slim one-run lead. Rogers provided the jolt the Cards needed with a ringing leadoff triple that touched down just inside the right field line. Hendriks then walked, stole 2nd before Tong executed a perfect squeeze bunt to get the Cards back on the board. Lefebvre struck out with Hendriks standing on third, but Yuen wasted no time picking up his teammate, ripping the first pitch through the A’s third baseman for a huge RBI single. 9-6 Cards after 5 complete. The 6th would turn out to be the last inning due to the time limit, but it didn’t go by without some theatrics. With Tourmaline being a plus-sized Midget field, any hard-hit ball that splits the outfield gaps has a good chance of resulting in an inside-the-park home run. The A’s Meurs rolled one all the way to the fence in left-centre to make it 9-7, but Hendriks got the last laugh as he responded with a home run of his own, this one a 3-run inside-the-park shot. The Cards didn’t need any of those runs as they knew they were in the clear thanks to the time limit, but it was an exclamation point nonetheless. 14-7 was the final score in a back-and-forth, late-night affair. - JO
Sask5Giants 3 CARDINALS 9 (Pool Play)
Despite entering this final pool play fixture on Saturday evening, the Cards were looking at a virtual must-win game against the friendly Sask Five Giants, who were also sitting at 2-0. Twelve runs against through two games is uncharacteristic for the boys, but then again so is 38 runs scored. The Cards won the toss again, sending Yuen to the modest bump in the centre of Riverside Park’s all-dirt infield. He pitched to contact in 5 1/3 innings, allowing just two runs (only one earned), staying under 75 pitches to be preserved for the tournament final on Monday. The bats were on point again, as the Cards put runs on the board in each of their first four offensive innings. They were so hot in round robin play that they only failed to score at least one run in 4 out of 17 total offensive innings. Hendriks manufactured the first practically all by himself, punching a single up the middle, advancing to second on an overthrown pickoff attempt, then to third on a steal before coming home on a cue-shot RBI groundout from Tong. Then in the 2nd, Yuen and Suzuki both reached to start the inning, Waters moving them both up on a great sacrifice bunt. Giesbrecht wasn’t as automatic as usual in his squeeze bunt attempts, eventually striking out for the second out, but in typical Cardinal fashion his teammate would pick him up in a big way. Lamourea pounded a 2RBI single up the middle to bring home both runs and give the Cards a 3-0 lead. In the 3rd, the Cards loaded the bases with nobody out and only managed to bring one run home, McRae scoring on a wild pitch. The Giants were let off the hook as they got three pop-outs to limit the damage. Sask Five got one back in the 4th thanks to a couple of Cardinal errors, but the Cards responded in the bottom half with another run of their own. Waters came around to score on another wild pitch after starting the inning with a walk, 5-1 Cards after 4 complete.
The Giants finally got the bats going in the top of the 6th, sandwiching a sacrifice fly with four singles off Yuen, McRae and Hendriks to bring themselves within two. McRae faced three batters and only threw nine pitches before giving way to Hendriks to record the final four outs. The Cards got to lefty reliever Hildebrand in the bottom of the 6th, putting this one out reach. A single and a walk to lead things off set up another bunt situation, this time Giesbrecht bunted one that was fielded by the pitcher and fired over for a force-out at third, but with the Giants’ third baseman staring into the harsh evening sun, the throw went off his glove and into foul territory, allowing Suzuki to come home on the play. The Cards would also get RBI base hits from Lamourea and Rogers in the four-run 6th on their way to a 9-3 victory. With a 3-0 record and 15 total runs against, they’d earned themselves the #5 seed in the playoff bracket, meaning they’d be back at it bright and early the next morning against their Cardinal rivals northwest of Edmonton. The Giants also managed to squeak their way into the playoff bracket as the #8 seed – as both teams got along well with each other, they wished each other the best and crossed their fingers for a rematch in Sunday’s semifinal tilt. - JO
CARDINALS 14 St.Albert 6 (Quarter Final)
The West Coast Cardinals despite finishing with a 3-0 record and 1st in their pool were seeded 5th out of the 8 teams that qualified for the playoff round. A less than ideal 15 runs against in 3 pool play games is the sole reason why West Coast finished last of all five undefeated teams, the Cardinals were seeded 5th and got a date with 4-seed and suddenly automatic rival Cardinals…St. Albert Cardinals. Right away, West Coast knew that the quarterfinals were going to be a test as St. Albert looked like a well-coached, professional and organized ball club.
The West Coast Cardinals coaching staff set their pitching rotation from the start and decided to stick with it going into the playoff round with Duncan-Wu getting the nod against the rival Cardinals in the QFinals. West Coast wasted no time jumping on St. Albert’s starter Polard as Lefebvre (who would go on to have a big game) drove in Rogers for the first run of the game while Yuen brought home Tong with an RBI single putting West Coast up 2 early. Duncan-Wu who was looking to pitch his team into the semi-finals didn’t start off great as he plunked the first batter he faced on his very first pitch, St. Albert’s leadoff man went to work stealing both 2nd and 3rd on back-to-back pitches but Duncan-Wu would strand the aforementioned baserunner by striking out the 4-stick keeping it at 2-0 good Cardinals after 1.
St. Albert would come out swinging in the bottom half of the 2nd as the 5-stick would get himself into a 3-1 fastball count and didn’t miss any of Duncan-Wu’s fastball as he drove it over the “brown-monster” in right pulling St. Albert within 1 with the parking lot home run. A single, error, hit by pitch, SAC fly, strikeout and hard triple into the gap followed the home run scoring 2 more runs as after the triple Yam made a slow walk out to the mound to remove Duncan-Wu after 41 pitches recording just 5 outs in his quarterfinal start. Yam would turn to Suzuki in the long-relief effort, as Suzuki would escape the inning not before St. Albert had taken the lead 3-2 after 2.
The St. Albert starter seemed to have settle down after a shaky first inning as he continued to keep the boys from Coquitlam/Vancouver off-balance at the plate for the next 4 innings. Polard (St. Albert’s starter) escaped trouble in the 3rd despite putting two runners in scoring position falling behind 3-0 in the count to West Coast’s cleanup stick Noah Lefebvre, Polard would catch the Coquitlam-native looking and stranding both runners as Lefebvre and the rest of the West Coast lineup were suddenly looking to the sky for help at the dish. Meanwhile, Suzuki quietly held the St. Albert lineup in check giving West Coast the chance to bring the tying run up to the plate every at-bat but West Coast just couldn’t figure out Polard who continued to pitch backwards with confidence and without fear.
We jump to the 6th inning and West Coast still down 3-2, where we saw the most intense inning all tournament, the most nail-biting, the most breaths held and excitement from the West Coast side this Canada Day long weekend. The top of the order was due up in the top half of the 6th for West Coast and Rogers wasn’t letting Polard run away with the remaining 6 outs, Rogers drew a huge walk to lead off the 6th. Hendriks was next up and some poor decisions at the plate from the veteran led to an unproductive at-bat and strikeout with Rogers still standing on 1st. That’s when Rogers showed off his 5-tool ability as the 6’0 tall Rogers decided to take over the game with his legs, #17 swiped 2nd during Tong’s at-bat then went on to steal 3rd during Lefebvre’s at-bat. Giesbrecht (running for Tong who got on by a walk) would steal 2nd with no contest setting up Lefebvre with 2 runners in scoring position and 1 out. The West Coast catcher, who has been overlooked time and time again by numerous people and committees was looking to rebound after a subpar at bat that saw him strand two runners in scoring position just 3 innings ago. Lefebvre got himself in a prime count, before getting a hold of Polard’s 2-1 offering and scorching a ball over the head of the St. Albert left fielder scoring both runners. Lefebvre and the rest of the bench came alive and energy filled the entire 3rd base side of the field, The crucial 2run double not only tied the ballgame but put the good Cards up 1 going into the bottom of the 6th.
St. Albert wasn’t out of the woods yet as they sent their 3-4-5 hitters up to lead off the offensive half of the 6th, the 3-4 hitters each would put up quality at-bats and hit good pitches finding holes in the field as St. Albert threatened right back putting two runners in scoring position (tying run at 3rd and go-ahead run at 2nd) with none out. Knowing that the previous two hitters just hit two good pitches and earned those two hits, Suzuki took a step back off the mound regained his composure and thoughts and went to work. The 2nd year returning vet has been better than advertised this year out of the ‘pen, the amount of work #18 has put in during the off-season and maturity he has gained from last year has been remarkable. The maturity and confidence the former New West LL showed in the bottom of the 6th could not be matched as he went on the induce a pop up and strikeout to keep both runners at 2nd and 3rd with now two out. The anticipation and tension was too much to handle for some as Gregory Miles was looking through a slit of two fingers and coach Joseph O’Krafka’s heavy breathing could be heard from a mile away. The 2-out 2 runners on at-bat seemed to have taken an entirety as it included 2 mound visits from Lefebvre, 2 step offs by Suzuki and a mound visit from Yam to go over the next 3 sequences of pitches at a 1-2 count. Yam told Suzuki exactly what he wanted the next three pitches, Suzuki would fan Brisson on the 2-2 pitch stranding both runners and preserving the 1 run lead for West Coast. The nervous energy quickly turned to excitement and cheers following the massive strikeout as all the momentum was now on West Coast’s side.
Suzuki continued to be St. Albert’s Achilles heel as he led off the top of the 7th with a ringing opposite field double, Waters followed that up with a walk as Lamourea continued his tear at the plate hitting yet another RBI single scoring Suzuki. The offense which had been so dormant for most of the game suddenly came to life as with two runners on, Nagatomo came in for Maunahan to lay down a SAC bunt but best-case scenario turned out for West Coast as the pitcher was unable to field the perfectly-placed bunt loading the bases for Evan McRae. Things looked bleak for 10-batter McRae down 0-2 in the count but the first-year from Coquitlam battled to work a pivotal 7 pitch walk picking up an RBI in the process because of the bases-loaded free pass. The top of the order for West Coast would go ahead and put the game to bed as Rogers hit an RBI single, Tong picked up an RBI on the SAC bunt, Yuen racked up a 2 RBI single and Waters making his second appearance in the inning hit a 2-run double into the gap followed by Nagatomo who collected his 2nd hit in as many at-bats this inning with an RBI single. Just 6 outs ago, West Coast was fighting for their lives to stay alive in the tournament and now with 3 outs to go were now on top of the world with a 14-3 lead!
Maunahan came in to relieve Suzuki’s formidable relief effort and eventually cleaned up the 7th inning as West Coast could now breathe a little easier following an emotionally and physically draining 8:30am quarterfinal, 14-6 West Coast over St. Albert. They now had a rematch with the 8-seeded Sask 5 Giants. - LY
Sask5Giants 0 CARDINALS 15 (Semi Final)
The semifinal matchup was a battle of the two lower seeded teams who made it out of their respective quarterfinal games. To get through the quarters, the Sask5 Giants threw their top arm who impressed many this weekend with sidearm action that got up to low-mid 80s on his fastball. The Giants did West Coast a huge favor by defeating the 23-2 (in league play) Calgary Cubs Blue who were seeded 1st going into the playoff rounds. With that, the Giants were now up against the Cardinals once again less than 24 hours removed from their last meet-up.
The Cardinals sent one of their three headed monster to the mound in the form of Cody Hendriks who’s arm had to have been feeling fresh after throwing just 27 pitches so far this tournament (his only outing came in relief against the same Sask5 team). The Cards didn’t come flying out of the gate in this one as the Cardinal defence on the first ball hit to them botched it; Heilker settled the defence down by calmly fielding the next ball at 3rd and making a clean play to 2 on the fielder's choice, but could only watch as his middle infield would botch another routine groundball in the inning. Despite the 2 errors to kick off the 1st inning, Hendriks escaped the half inning unscathed striking out Sask5’s 5-batter to end the inning and the threat. It took until the bottom of the 2nd for West Coast to get on the board, who else but the two heroes during the quarterfinal matchup to get the offence started; a single up the gut by Lefebvre (2-run double to tie and take the lead during the QFinal) to lead off the offensive half of the 2nd for the Cards. Two at-bats later, Suzuki (the other hero from the QFinal who threw 4 1/3 innings of scoreless relief) would knock the aforementioned Lefebvre home with a single through the right side. Waters drew a free pass setting up Maunahan with two runners on and 1 out, the former South Van LL drove one deep to left-centre plating a run on arguably the biggest hit of the game, an RBI double. Lamourea followed that up racking up another 2 RBIs as #8 from Coquitlam hit a single back where it came from scoring both Waters and Maunahan with ease. 4-0 Cards after 2.
Hendriks was now in full control as a 9 pitch and 8 pitch 2nd and 3rd inning respectively made up for a relatively high pitch count 1st inning. The offensive onslaught for the Cards continued as the new Sask5 pitcher (Campbell) was welcomed into the game rudely by West Coast’s sticks. Back-to-back-to-back singles on back-to-back-to-back pitches by Hendriks, Tong and Lefebvre to lead off the inning had Campbell already giving up 1 run in relief and still 2 guys on with none out. Yuen watched a ball go by then smacked a single of his own loading the bases with none out. A Suzuki groundout plated one while Lamourea and Nagatomo both drew bases-loaded walks plating two more runs capping off another 4 run inning and an 8-0 lead for the Cards after 3.
Hendriks continued to impress as another 8 pitch inning got West Coast back into the dugout and Sask5 back on the field although this time the Cards would make it hurt with a 7 spot in the 4th. Highlights from the 7-run 4th included: a 2-run single from Suzuki, RBI single from Maunahan, RBI single from Hendriks and 3 runs crossed thanks to wild pitches. With 3 outs to go before the mercy rule ended this one, who could forget about Hendriks who was quietly on pace to throw his second no hitter in as many starts?
Hendriks would go on to retire the first two batters, including the latter of the two who thought he had a better chance at switching sides at the plate batting right-handed as opposed to left-handed in his last AB in which he struck out on; long story short the move didn’t pan out as Hendriks would also sit him down on strikes for his 7th K of the ballgame. The native from the Netherlands would induce a pop out on the very next batter to end the game and capping off another remarkable performance on the bump throwing back-to-back no hitters (5IP 0H 0R 0BB 7K 2ROE), this one recorded in a 15-0 semifinal win. With that, the Cardinals tipped their cap to the Giants who were great sports about the 2 games and wished the Cards luck in the final. West Coast could sleep happy tonight knowing they were going to play a meaningful game on Monday. - LY
CARDINALS 4 OkotoksBlack 3 (Championship Final)
This year’s run to the final for the West Coast Caridnals had been quite reminiscent of how the Coquitlam Reds got to the final at last year’s Okotoks Dawgs 15U Invitational. The aforementioned Reds went 3-0 in pool play, then beat St. Albert Cardinals in the quarters followed by a mercy shutout victory in the semis and faced off against the host Okotoks Dawgs Black in the final. Last year’s final saw Foreman’s Reds take down the host Dawgs by a close one run game, West Coast was now looking to make it 3 straight years that a B.C team has won this tournament (2016 – Richmond Chuckers, 2017 – Coquitlam Reds). So far this tournament, the host Dawgs ousted the other 2 British Columbia teams, defending champion Coquitlam Reds and Witzke-led Victoria Eagles in the quarters and semis respectively. Yuen (West Coast’s starter) and the Cards were now up against the Dawgs Black and their 6’4 right-handed starter in Tyrelle Chadwick.
Chadwick, a Kamloops B.C
boy man will be competing for Zone 2 in this year’s BC Summer Games, the right-hander has been topped at 86 MPH as per Tyler Hollick (Okotoks Dawgs GM) and sits consistently at around 82-84 MPH. The final didn’t start without its fair share of controversy as West Coast found out that Okotoks was running a designated hitter (DH) for Chadwick which Yam was made aware from the start of the tournament that it wasn’t allowed to be used. After much discussion with Okotoks’ staff and looking back at some e-mails, Chadwick was slotted back in the 4-spot to hit for himself and we finally got ready to start the final at Conrad Field between the host Okotoks Dawgs and the West Coast Cardinals.
Rogers after a clean hat trick a night before got the offence going drawing a leadoff walk off Chadwick, the next batter was Hendriks and we immediately had one of our turning points of the game. Up 0-2 in the count on Hendriks, Chadwick tried to throw his hardest fastball of the day but clearly overthrew it as everyone watching from near and far heard the “thud” as Chadwick drilled Hendriks with the 0-2 fastball in the back, giving Hendriks a welt and a free base. An ill-advised decision by Yam to bunt the next batter (Tong) and give Chadwick/Okotoks a free out worked wonders for the Dawgs as Tong would pop the bunt up for the first out the inning. The next biggest play came in the form of leadoff hitter Marc-Olivier Rogers who was standing on 2nd with cleanup stick Lefebvre up, Rogers on a 3-1 count timed Chadwick up and stole 3rd as Hendriks completed the backend of the double steal. Lefebvre who had been clutch for the Cards all weekend wasn’t done as the 2017 Tri-City Bantam AA graduate smacked a 2-run double past Robledo at SS plating both Rogers and Hendriks with ease. Lefebvre would arrive at 2nd and give his signature 5 claps to the dugout and yell “Let’s Go!!!” as the entire bench and 3rd base side of spectators went crazy, Cards were up 2-0 thanks to the hit. Suzuki wasn’t content with a 2 run lead as the lefty stick from New West would smack a 1-2 offer from Chadwick up the middle scoring Lefebvre with ease and stunning the entire city of Okotoks with a 3-0 lead after a half inning.
The Dawgs would get one back in the bottom half of the inning as Chadwick would deliver an RBI groundout scoring Makaras who got on by a walk pushing the deficit to just 2 after 1 complete. West Coast reclaimed that 3 run lead as Lamourea would reach base on the 1 out hit by pitch, Rogers would come through again in the clutch depositing a 2 out RBI single through the right side scoring Lamourea, 3-1 Cards after 1 ½ innings. The Dawgs who were humiliated by the Cards 13-2 in early tournament play back in April at the West Coast Pre-Season Classic were not going down without a fight as they continued to put up tough at-bats against Yuen who featured a devastating changeup in this one against a left-handed heavy lineup. Robledo (who must have been a newly introduced import as he wasn’t on the online Okotoks Black roster) was scorching at the plate as he would drive in his teammate with an RBI single to RF in the bottom half of the 3rd giving the aforementioned Robledo 2 hits and again cutting the deficit back to 2 runs. 4-2 Cards after 3.
West Coast failed to cash in on a prime opportunity in the 4th as they put two runners in scoring position with none out against the Dawgs’ reliever, southpaw Connor Wong. 3 unproductive at-bats led to the two baserunners being stranded as the lead was kept at 2. Yuen continued to effectively keep the Dawgs off-balance in this one. We jump to the bottom of the 6th as Yuen was quickly approaching his BC (Minor) Baseball pitch count limit of 95, he would efficiently retire the first two batters of the 6th before Robledo would record his 3rd hit in as many at-bats setting up the starter Chadwick with a chance to tie the game with one swing. Chadwick would barrel up Yuen’s first pitch and drive it to right on a rope but the new RF Matthew Maunahan (who moved from LF to RF this inning as Suzuki who was originally in RF was in the ‘pen warming up) played it perfectly as he took a couple steps back and reached up with his glove over his head to snare the line drive off the Chadwick’s bat. What looked like a sure RBI double off the bat (Robledo off on the 3-2 2out pitch) was snagged by Maunahan as spectators on the 3rd base side cheered and the players and coaches for West Coast waited for Maunahan at the 3rd base foul line to appreciate the man who just made an (eventual…as we would find out) game-saving catch.
The bottom of the 7th saw the Dawgs down to their final 3 outs in this one, Yuen trotted back out the mound at a running total of 91 pitches. Pote (Okotoks head coach) went to his bench to begin the offensive half of the 7th as Gagnon (who was supposed to be the DH for starter Chadwick) got his chance to hit this time as a pinch-hitter. Yuen needed 5 pitches to retire Gagnon on strikes as his day was done a masterful job by the reliable 2nd year vet from Burnaby, 6 1/3 IP 4H 2R 1ER 8K he would now hand the ball over to fellow returning veteran Taiki Suzuki to record the 2-out save. Suzuki would get Spinks (who was awarded a brand new Baum bat a night ago recognizing the tournament’s top hitter) to hit a ball hard to the right side but Evan McRae at 1st would made a “goalie-like” snag at 1B on the hot-shot with the glove on his right hand and calmly take it to the bag for the 2nd out of the inning. The first-year multi-sport athlete from Coquitlam in Evan McRae was quietly having a heck of a day at 1st base as he snared the aforementioned grounder taking away a base hit, #19 from the Cards also picked a thrown ball in the dirt by the Cardinals SS earlier in the game (1st inning) that would have scored an additional run if that ball got by him and put the tying run on in the form of Chadwick. Nevertheless, the impressive play of McRae at 1st now had Okotoks down to their last out still chasing 2 runs, Pote once again went to his bench getting rid of the lefty-lefty matchup and hitting the big-boy right-handed hitting Cole Carroll. Suzuki would challenge Carroll on a 3-2 pitch and Carroll didn’t miss it as the Okotoks pinch-hitter got all of the middle-middle fastball and drove a no-doubter beyond the left-field fence pulling the Dawgs back within 1 with 1 out to go. Coach Ahn would make a smart call to visit Suzuki on the mound as Suzuki, Ahn, Hendriks and Lefebvre all laughed the home run off and joked “gotta give the iScore viewers back home a show”. Jokes aside, Suzuki would get the very next batter, Kemp (Okotoks last chance) to ground one back to him for the final out as the West Coast Cardinals won 4-3 over the host Dawgs and are your 2018 Okotoks Dawgs 15U Invitational CHAMPS! - LY
Time for a good ol’ tournament GBU (Good, Bad and the Ugly):
- Lamourea - led the team in batting AVG this tournament going 6/11 5R 2 2B and a tournament leading 10 RBIs
- Nagatomo – the only player on the Cardinals team without a strikeout at the plate
- Suzuki – caught fire at the plate going 7/14 with an earth-shattering 10 runs scored; also threw 4 1/3 innings of scoreless relief to give West Coast a chance at a comeback in the QFinal
- Lefebvre – the all-around MVP for this tournament going 6/13 9R 2 2B 1HR 7 RBI and 8 BB, he had arguably the two biggest hits in the two biggest games this tournament (QFinal and Championship Final)
- Hendriks and Yuen – backbone of this team, both quietly excelled at the plate and both put on exceptional pitching performances in the semis and finals respectively
- Maunahan and Tong – had big hits throughout the tournament but most importantly were the defensive MVPs…played exceptional defence all tournament as neither made an error and contributed with a few stellar catches in the outfield
- Rogers – a imposing presence at the plate in the leadoff spot for the Cards, led the way with 8 stolen bases being caught 0 times
- Giesbrecht, McRae, Heilker, Waters, Duncan-Wu – all played stellar defence throughout the weekend and contributed at the plate
- sportsmanship shown by Sask5 and other teams
- the respect our team gained throughout the tournament, lots of good things said about our team
- Hendriks rocking the Go-Pro during his 5 home run effort during the HR derby
- hospitality and organization by the Okotoks Dawgs throughout this tourney
- being provided tickets to the collegiate games by Allen Cox
- being given a tour of the facilities and academy by Tyler Hollick and Val Helldobler
- our parents being so supportive of the trip and organizing transportation, events as well as meals in between games
- an all B.C final was not made possible as Okotoks took down the other 2 B.C teams, Coquitlam Reds in the QFinals and Victoria Eagles in the SFinals
- the 4 minute home run derby rounds per player for 20 teams…
- the 24-5 drubbing of Lloydminster…that wasn’t fun for anyone.
- Lefebvre after hitting a clutch 2-run double that gave West Coast the lead in the QFinals was doubled up at 2nd the very next batter after taking off on contact forgetting how many outs there were, getting doubled up at 2 on the line drive to RF
- the welt on Hendriks’ back after getting hit by Chadwick
- Gregory Miles looking through the slit of his two fingers during the tense quarterfinal bottom of the 6th
- this photo below