It couldn’t have been a more simple message from the coaches to the players of the Vernon Canadians 11U AAA baseball team.
Win Saturday night against the North Langley Trappers, and the Cs would advance to Sunday morning’s B.C. Tier 2 AAA semifinals. Lose, and their season would be over.
The Cs jumped on North Langley for the maximum four runs in the top of the first (teams can score only four runs per inning until the sixth and final inning, which is an open inning for runs), built up a 9-0 lead, then held on for a 9-6 win at Lakeview Park’s Vardon Field.
Vernon will play Campbell River at Vardon Field in one semifinal while Cloverdale faces Ladner at Batchelor Field. Both semifinals start at 10 a.m. All four teams finished 3-1.
The two semifinal winners advance to the provincial final at Vardon Field at 2:30 p.m. The two semifinal losers will play for bronze at Lakeview Park’s Batchelor Field at 2 p.m.
The Canadians took a 5-0 lead into the bottom of the second before the Trappers threatened with the bases loaded and only one out. Vernon starting pitcher Jordan Herrington struck out the final two batters to end the threat.
Vernon scored a maximum four runs in the top of the fifth, two coming on a two-run shortstop error and another on a botched rundown, to take a seemingly insurmountable 9-0 lead.
But there was no quit in the Trappers.
North Langley scored three in the bottom of the fifth – including a two-run home run – to make it 9-3 heading into the final inning.
Everett Brown, who came in relief of Herrington in the fifth, started the sixth inning and gave up a lead0ff single and double which scored a run to make it 9-4. The Trappers scored another on a fielder’s choice, had the bases loaded with two out and the game-winning run at the plate, but Vernon’s third relief pitcher of the inning, Jonah Lee, induced a game-ending ground out.
Vernon won both its round-robin games Friday but faltered Saturday afternoon, losing 7-2 to Comox Valley, setting the stage for Saturday night’s must-win encounter.
BC 13 U AAA FINALS, CREEKSIDE PARK
The Vernon Canadians ended their season with a victory Saturday afternoon at Creekside Park.
The Cs, who had been outscored 41-3 in their first four games of the provincial championships, rallied behind the arm and bat of Horatio (Hirsch) Andow to beat Chilliwack 5-3.
With Chilliwack leading 3-2 in the sixth inning, Andow stepped up with two runners on base and crushed the first pitch he saw in his at-bat deep over the left-centre field fence to give Vernon the lead.
Andow pitched 6.1 innings before giving way to Ben Thompson, who got the final two outs as Vernon finished the provincials 1-4.
Burnaby and Abbotsford both went 5-0 to top their respective pools and earn Sunday semifinal berths at 9 a.m. Burnaby will take on White Rock while Abbotsford will face North Shore of North Vancouver.
The two winners will meet for the provincial title Sunday at 1 p.m.