Abbotsford is a fantastic baseball town.
The events of the past weekend testify to that notion, as teams from the Abbotsford Angels Hardball Association combined for four podium finishes at B.C. championship tournaments around the province.
Leading the charge were the AAA peewee (age 13-and-under) and AAA Tier 1 mosquito (11U) teams, who won gold in their respective divisions. The AAA bantam (15U) squad added a silver medal, while the A mosquito (10U) team took bronze.
“I think baseball is extremely strong in this community,” asserted Dan Dick, president of the Angels association and coach of the peewee AAA team. “I think our association has done a fantastic job of developing players, and the biggest thing is, the kids are having fun.
“If you’re doing that, good things will follow.”
The AAA peewee team had an incredibly dramatic Sunday at their B.C. tourney in Cloverdale. They edged Richmond 7-6 in a three-hour, nine-inning semifinal (games are typically seven innings), with Logan McDonald supplying the winning run with a solo homer in the top of the ninth.
In the final against host Cloverdale, they found themselves trailing 5-0 in the first inning and 8-2 in the third, but battled back to win 12-8. Carlin Dick (3-for-3 at the plate) and Dayton Peters (3-for-4) paced the offence, while pitcher Tyler Nelson was lights-out after coming on in relief.
“It was a crazy day of baseball – I had never experienced anything like it in my life,” marveled Dick, whose team advances to the national championships in London, Ont., Aug. 19-26. “The resiliency was amazing.”
The AAA Tier 1 mosquito squad won B.C. gold for the second straight year – they also won at the 10U level last season.
“It’s all the same players except for two new kids,” noted coach Richard Rabinovitch. “Each one of them, at some point at provincials, was a hero to the team.”
The mosquito AAA Angels went undefeated during league play and at provincials, wrapping up the title with a 6-4 win over Ladner in the finals of their B.C. tourney in Kamloops. Game MVPs included Micah Bucknam, Treyson Smith, Nicholas Rabinovitch, Conner Krahn, Jack Taylor and Aidan Koetsier.
The AAA bantam Angels, competing in Rutland, battled their way to the title game, where they fell 5-2 to Cloverdale despite a solid outing from pitcher Cade Smith and a player-of-the-game performance from Tre Pankratz. Other standouts during the B.C. tourney included Robert Bradley (who hit two home runs), catcher Aidan McDonald and pitcher Michael Stoveman.
“I don’t think we were a heavy favourite going in, and the I think the guys reached their potential – they played really well,” said coach Scott Pankratz, whose team moves on to the Western Canadian championships in Spruce Grove, Alta. next week. “A hit either way in the final, and we could have won that game as well.
“(The Angels AAA bantams) are not only really good ballplayers, they’re really good young adults, too. It’s a really good feeling for a coach. This is the 17th year I’ve coached baseball, and that’s why you do it.”
At their provincials in Victoria, the mosquito A team fell in the semifinals to eventual gold medalist Campbell River, but bounced back with an emphatic 14-4 win over Ladner in the bronze medal game.
The Abby peewee AA team also qualified for provincials, and they missed the playoff round at their tourney in Port Coquitlam.
Abbotsford’s medal count could increase this week, as the bantam A and peewee AAA Tier 2 teams embark on their respective B.C. tourneys.
The Abbostford Angels mosquito A baseball team celebrated a round-robin win against the Cloverdale Spurs at the 2014 provincials in North Saanich on Saturday. (Steven Heywood / Black Press)