After a lengthy delay to the start of their season, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the North Island Cubs 18U AAA baseball team has slowly made their return to play over the past three months, winding up as provincial champions for 2020.
The Cubs began their return to sport back on June 7 as teams were allowed to start practicing only with a maximum of 10 players and two coaches on the field at any one time. The next phase on July 8 allowed them to resume full team practices, which eventually led to them being able to hold inter-club play as of July 25.
Finally, the announcement came on July 31 that league play would begin Aug. 8, with teams playing in “Cohort groups of three teams.” The Cubs played only on the Island against the Victoria Seawolves throughout the month of August, and finished with a perfect record of 12-0. Phase 3 of Viasport’s return to sport was announced on Aug. 25, increasing the “Cohort group” size to 100 players, allowing for the Championship weekend to take place against the Kelowna Sun Devils in a best of three series held at Nunns Creek Park.
Powered by rookie ace, Wyatt Dumont, the Cubs won game #1 by a score of 6-2. Dumont pitched a complete game, striking out six and walking only three Kelowna batters through seven innings. The North Island defence managed to hold the Sun Devils to only five hits all game.
Robert Gurney started the offense for the Cubs with a double in the bottom the first inning, only to be scored by his brother, Austin Gurney, two pitches later as he hammered his own double to the right center field gap. Dumont helped his own cause with a double in the third and an RBI single in the fourth. Brayden Penn was 2-for-3 with a pair of singles, while Cam Bell had an RBI single of his own in the second.
Game #2 had veteran Austin Gurney get the nod on the mound and he delivered for the local squad.
Pitching a complete-game shutout in his final 18U AAA game, Gurney struck out 11 batters and issued only one walk through seven innings. Once again, the Cubs’ stingy defense held the Sun Devils to three hits all game.
In one of the closest games played by the North Island squad all year, the Cubs scored only one run in the fourth, when Riley Sutherland crossed the plate on a single by Bell. They held on to a 1-0 lead heading into the 7th and final inning, where they exploded offensively.
Lead-off batter Markus Cross hit a single to start the inning, and was advanced to third base on a Cam Bell double over the right fielder’s head. Tyler Newby drew a walk, followed by Dumont who also walked, setting the stage for David Klatt who dropped down a perfect bunt that scored two more North Island runners.
Catcher, Robert Gurney then walked and was advanced to second on a fielder’s choice hit by Austin Gurney. Sutherland then picked up two RBI’s as he grounded out to the Kelowna second baseman, advancing Klatt and Robert Gurney across the plate with some impressive baserunning. When the dust settled the Cubs held a seven-run lead and all that was left to do was make three more outs. A
fter striking out the Kelowna lead-off batter, Gurney was able to get the next batter to ground out to shortstop, Bell, who threw him out at first base. Fittingly, the game came to an end by way of Gurney’s 11th strikeout, closing the door on a very successful Cubs season, and clinching the 2020 18U AAA Championship.