If the Island zone tournament is any indication, the Stuart Channel Canadians Bantam A baseball team and its followers can look forward to some barnburner games during the provincial playoffs.
The eight Salt Spring Island and three Chemainus players who make up the team had a wild ride to finish second in the zone finals at Campbell River, earning them a qualifying berth in the provincials at Nanaimo this week.
The Island championship game against Campbell River ended in a hair-raising 12-11 loss.
“It was back and forth,” said Stuart Channel head coach Jamin Stocks before the outcome was determined.
Campbell River led 5-0, but Jace Hamm of Chemainus put his team right back in it with a grand slam home run. After that, each team had the lead, only to surrender it back.
With two out in the final inning, Dawson Bell reached first and Jacob Stocks hit a double to send him to third. Bell later stole home with two strikes on the batter, but the rally fell one run short.
“We just couldn’t manufacture that final run,” noted Jamin Stocks.
Campbell River had won by the mercy rule over every other team during the tournament, but found Stuart Channel to be a handful.
“So very proud of these young men who dug deep and prevailed, learning that hard work and teamwork does pay off,” added assistant coach Western Higbie.
Ben Shugar turned in a sterling pitching display in the 37 degree Celsius heat during a game lasting three and a half hours. His outing consisted of 98 pitches.
“There’s a lot of kids that stepped up,” coach Stocks indicated. “It was one of those games where every kid plays a role.”
Hamm, Bell and Shammi Mahon are the Chemainus players on the team. The Salt Spring contingent includes: Jacob Stocks, Braedyn Billwiller, Eli England, Hudson Scheres, Shugar, Owen Collombin, Cameron Bradley and Broc Galea.
Mike and Jaeden Hamm are also assistant coaches, with Sonja Collombin the manager.
Stuart Channel opens the provincials against host Nanaimo Thursday.
“They’re the type of team that can turn it on out of the gate,” noted Jamin Stocks.
But Stuart Channel hopes to get off to a strong start in that game before taking on Port Coquitlam and South Burnaby Friday and Powell River Saturday, leading up to the playoffs Sunday.