The Penticton Tigers just keep on rolling.
The Tigers knocked off some top level competition last weekend to win the 2018 Tsawwassen Baseball 15U Grand Slam Victoria Day Weekend Tournament Championship.
After opening the event with a 11-1 thumping of the Cloverdale Spurs, Penticton assistant coach James Raymond said the boys were unable to solve the puzzling pitch selection of the Triangle Baseball starter suffering a deflating 9-1 setback.
That’s when a voice from the Penticton minor baseball past stepped in to offer some words of advice and encouragement.
“Junior Deleon (Penticton AAA midget coach from 2005 to 2014) was on hand to watch the game and took some time to speak with the boys about the loss, offering them insight and suggestions on how to recover best,” said Raymond. “Junior’s influence on this group of boys goes as far back as T-ball for some and it seemed to be the magic that helped the boys rebound hard from there.
“Junior just has this incredible chemistry and vibe with these kids. I call him the player whisper, he speaks player speak and able to able to break it down and have the kids relax around it’s a game and mistakes are going to happen and that’s baseball right?”
Deleon is currently an assistant coach with Langley Blaze baseball organization, one of the premier programs in the province with nearly 30 alumni drafted by Major League Baseball clubs.
“Obvously we miss him here immensely but we’re excited for him because he’s doing amazing things down on the West Coast,” said Raymond.
Tigers players obviously took Deleon’s advice to heart, rebounding with an 11-1 win over the Ladner in the following game, seeding them fifth in the round robin.
Next up in the quarter final was the Vancouver Expos who went down by a 14-5 margin to the Tigers.
The number one seed and undefeated Gordon Head, that had only allowed two runs prior to that game with the Tigers, suffered a 17-10 mauling.
The championship game pitted Penticton against the Vancouver Mounties, the only other undefeated team.
After jumping out to a 9-2 lead the Mounties were able to cut the margin to one run in the bottom of the sixth inning.
But the Tigers got on the sticks and were able to claw their way to a 14-8 lead and were able to hang on for a 14-12 win and the chance to hoist the champions cup.
“They’re (Tigers) definitely firing on all cylinders, it’s been an absolute treat,” said Raymond. “I’ll tell you I’ve coached a few double AA teams in my past and these guys are definitely a special bunch.
“The Penticton group has always been known around the province for their defence and this year we’ve really been working hard on contact and getting those bats in play and it seems to be working really well. There’s no pitchers that are safe from us, so far.”