Campbell River’s Bantam Tyees spent last weekend walking a tightrope before safely arriving at the other end with a berth in the provincial baseball championships.
The Marine Harvest Tyees overcame losses in their first two games to rally with four straight wins — including two in extra innings. Even then, the squad needed a little help, which zone champion Chemainus provided with its own extra-inning win over Victoria.
The outcome was a runner-up finish for the bantams and one of three Vancouver Island berths in the provincial championships, which begin Friday in Comox. Comox Valley earned an automatic berth as the host program.
Coming off a title in the Burnaby Summer Fun Tournament one week earlier, the Tyees got off to a rough start in the first round of the zone finals, co-hosted in Ladysmith and Chemainus. The bantams dropped an 11-1 decision to host Chemainus, then suffered a 17-6 pounding at the hands of Victoria.
But, as they say, the Tyees had not yet begun to fight. With every contest the rest of the way holding the threat of elimination, the Tyees rallied in Saturday’s opening game with a 13-3 win over Comox Valley, then overcame an 11-7 deficit to Ladysmith in the bottom of the seventh inning to tie the game and force extra innings before pulling out a 12-11 win in the eighth.
Sunday opened with another extra-inning affair, as the Tyees let a three-run lead over Alberni Valley slip away in the seventh inning. In the bottom of the eighth, however, Alberni’s catcher followed a force out at the plate by walking the ball out to the pitcher as an alert Tyee raced home from third with the winning run.
After that action, Sunday’s 9-5 win over Nanaimo in the final round-robin contest seemed almost a relaxed affair.
But the bantams’ spot in provincials wasn’t guaranteed. If Victoria managed a win over Chemainus in the tourney’s final game, it would join the hosts as the provincial representative. The teams carried a 4-4 tie into the 11th inning before Chemainus scored to claim a 5-4 win and eliminate Victoria.
The provincials in Comox will continue through Aug 3.