The Parksville Royals, boasting a team-high six players from Campbell River, captured the Western Canada Midget AAA baseball championship Sunday with an 11-inning, 2-1 win over St. Albert, AB in Yorkton, Sask.
The Royals, who play in the Vancouver Island Select League, feature players from Parksville north, including Campbell River athletes Zach Senay, Jacob Ingersoll, Cory Bukauskas, Ethan Fox, Jaret Knowles and Chris Vlaj.
Knowles drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the 11th in the final game, which led to the winning run when Adam McKilligan of Comox singled home Josh Anderson, who came in to pinch-run for Knowles.
“That capped off a good season for our kids,” said Dave Wallace, Royals head coach. “It was a good way to finish, both on and off the field.”
The squad dropped a one-run loss in their opening game, then ran the table the rest of the way to gather the gold medals.
“We thought that could happen,” Wallace said of the opening loss, which came on a two-run rally in the bottom of the seventh fueled by four walks and a hit batter. “They travelled all day to get to the tournament, and we hadn’t played a game in almost three weeks. But from then on, they played lights-out.”
After the 7-6 opening loss to the host Parkland Expos of Yorkton, the Royals rounded out the five-game round-robin with a 7-3 win over the North Winnipeg Pirates, a 3-2 shading of St. Albert, a 6-1 win over the North West Prairie Pirates of Lloydminster, AB, and a 2-0 blanking of the St. James A’s of Winnipeg.
That set the team up with a gold-medal rematch against St. Albert in Sunday’s tourney final.
“We’d played them before, in a Kamloops tournament,” Wallace said of the Cardinals. “They’re a good, solid team.”
The Royals struck first in the final, with McKillican’s one-out, bases-loaded single driving home Ingersoll in the bottom of the fifth. A fly-out, throw-out double play ended the threat, and St. Albert’s evened the game with an unearned run in the top of the sixth.
The game was then handed over to the pitchers and defense for five scoreless innings before the Royals ended it.
Colton Tuka started on the mound for Parksville and went eight innings before Liam Ballance came on and earned the win with three innings of one-hit ball.
Fox finished 2-for-5 and Vlaj, Bukauskas and Ingersoll each had a hit in the final.
Royals 2, St. James 0
After six innings of scoreless ball, the Royals broke through with a two-out, two-run rally in the top of the seventh for the victory. Fox got the inning started with a two-out single, moved to third on a single by Liam Janzen, and scored the first run on an error. Knowles followed with a single to drive home Janzen with an insurance tally.
Hayden Scheck threw a complete-game five-hitter for the win.
Royals 6, North West 1
The Royals got all their scoring in a third-inning outburst and Senay made it stand up, picking up the win while combining with reliever Dean Leyland on a two-hitter.
In the decisive third inning, Vlaj and Bukauskas hit back-to-back singles to load the bases and Ingersoll hit a sacrifice fly to plate the first run. After a hit batsman re-loaded the bases, Fox scored Vlaj and Bukauskas with a two-run single to make it 3-0. Fox went on to score on a single by Zach Waddington.
Royals 3, St. Albert 2
After falling behind 2-0, the Royals began their rally in the bottom of the third, when Ingersoll led off with a single and eventually came around to score on a ground out by Bukauskas. The team got the tying and winning runs one inning later. Knowles hit a two-out single, stole second and scored on Ingersoll’s single. Ingersoll raced to second on a pickoff throw, then scored on another single by Vlaj to make it 3-2.
McKillican went the distance for the pitching victory.
Royals 7, North Winnepeg 3
With most of the Campbell River contingent starting on the bench, the Royals jumped out to an early 5-0 lead through two innings and never looked back. Bukauskas, the starting catcher, was 1-for-3 with two runs. Off the bench, Vlaj delivered an RBI hit, Ingersoll drove in a run and Fox reached base and scored.
“We had 17 kids there and everyone got a chance to play the first few games,” said Wallace. “At the end we shortened the bench a bit to go with the guys that were hot.”
Parkland 7, Royals 6
The Royals led 5-1 and 6-3 before the host club rallied with two runs in the bottom of the sixth and two more in the bottom of the seventh to secure the win. Fox went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs, Ingersoll delivered an RBI hit and Knowles, Bukauskas and Vlaj each had a hit in the loss.