Struggles at the plate sink Jr. Cards in playoffs
The Abbotsford Junior Cardinals' bats went quiet at an inopportune time, leading to an early exit from the B.C. Junior Premier Baseball League playoff tournament in Victoria.
Coming off a strong regular season, the Junior Cards (29-15) were seeded fifth out of eight teams at provincials on the weekend, and needed to finish in the top two of their four-team pool to advance to the semifinals. But they dropped their first two outings – 5-0 to the Victoria Junior Mariners on Friday and 6-1 to the Whalley Junior Chiefs on Saturday – to seal their elimination, mustering just three hits in each game.
"We just couldn't get the bats going," Junior Cards coach Shawn Besse noted. "The guys produced all year, and it's one of those things that unfortunately happens."
The Abby squad finished strong anyway, beating the Langley Junior Blaze 2-1 in their finale to ensure that the top-seeded team wouldn't be moving on to the semis, either. Chase Stewart and Trevor Wilford drove in the Abby runs in the fifth inning, while Ryan Kellar picked up the win on the mound. It was the first time all season that the Junior Cards had beaten the Blaze.
"The atmosphere was a little bit down for the first inning or two, but after that, it felt like we were playing a gold medal game," Besse said. "We were playing the spoiler role, and we played really well.
"It was a bittersweet ending," he added. "You feel like you accomplished something by winning your last game, and who it was against."
The North Delta Junior Blue Jays won the BCJPBL title, edging the North Shore Junior Twins 2-1.
Despite the provincial result, Besse termed it a "great season" for his squad.
"It's a huge jump for players going up to the junior level – the bigger field, the wood bats," he said. "But we were such a close-knit group, everyone went to war for each other, and it was nice as a coach to see that."
REMPEL EARNS ALL-STAR NOD
The B.C. Premier Baseball League handed out its year-end awards last week, and Tanner Rempel of the senior Cardinals was among the honourees.
Rempel was named a first team all-star as an infielder, and was also recognized for a pair of statistical achievements – he led the league in on-base percentage (.477) and the most times hit by a pitch (19).