Little league, big plays

Fergie Jenkens and Claude Raymond would have enjoyed the pitchers, Larry Walker the outfield plays and Justin Morneau the infield plays. That is what Tuesday night’s Denny’s little league baseball game was all about, enjoying the game of roundball, baseball. “Just playing and having fun,” Tavis Johnson, catcher and shortstop on the Red team said. The final score, 17-7, favoured the team in blue jerseys, but the lads in red jerseys had smiles just as wide.



Fergie Jenkens and Claude Raymond would have enjoyed the pitchers, Larry Walker the outfield plays and Justin Morneau the infield plays.

That is what Tuesday night’s Denny’s little league baseball game was all about, enjoying the game of roundball, baseball.

“Just playing and having fun,” Tavis Johnson, catcher and shortstop on the Red team said.

The final score, 17-7, favoured the team in blue jerseys, but the lads in red jerseys had smiles just as wide.

The smiles came from playing the game and having the opportunity to try different positions, something Tim Barker, coach of the Red team, said was an important part of coaching.

“I let the young kids pitch and catch tonight,” he said.

“The little guys have to learn.”

For the 9 – 13-year-old boys, baseball is a sport to be enjoyed on the field and in the dugout, hanging out with buddies.

Despite the score, the match was decided by pitching, especially in the second and fourth innings.

Both teams had a good first inning and headed to the second inning with Blue nursing a 5-4 lead over Red.

Red was held off the scoresheet in the top of the second inning thanks in part to Blue rightfielder Keaton Ortner.

Sporting a Montreal Canadiens ball cap, Ortner, who was playing shallow in right field, darted back to make a great over-the-shoulder catch.

Ortner, 12, who has been a Canadiens fans for three years thanks to his mom Janet’s influence, was uncertain he would make the catch.

“I hope I catch it,” Ortner, a Grade 6 student at Carson elementary said was the first thought that went through his mind when he started tracking the ball.

Tracy Mero, coach with the Blue team, was impressed.

“He made a couple of good catches,” Mero said.

In the bottom half of the inning, Blue lit up the scoreboard for another five runs. Red mounted a comeback in the third inning, closing the gap to 10-7.

Red would have scored more points had it not been for another great catch by Ortner, this time in left field.

Blue rallied for another five runs in the bottom of the third inning, but not before Red’s shortstop Johnson, 13, made a great snag on a sharp grounder and made the throw to first in time to catch the runner.

Although he prefers to be catcher, Johnson, a Grade 7 student at Barlow Creek elementary, knew exactly what to do when the sharp dribbler was hit his way.

“I had to charge the ball to catch it before it started taking wild bounces,” he said. The Red squad faced some tough pitching in the fourth inning that saw the blue jerseys record two strikeouts.

“We have some pretty good pitchers,” Mero said.

Tim Barker, bench boss for the Red team, said he enjoyed coaching baseball, but admitted there were challenges, especially given the age range of players.

There is an insufficient number of players to justify a league for nine – 10-year-olds and another for 11 – 12-year-olds.

The biggest challenge, Barker said, was teaching his players some of the nuances, the subtleties of baseball. “They get the hitting, pitching and throwing,” he said.

“It’s the running on a dropped third strike, the infield fly rule, the little things.”

Both teams see action this weekend for the league finals beginning Saturday morning. The championship game goes Sunday at 1 p.m.

Quesnel Cariboo Observer