Knights off to western cham­pi­onship

The Prince George Citizen - - Sports - Ted CLARKE Cit­i­zen staff

For the sec­ond straight year, the PG Surg Med Knights will rep­re­sent B.C. in the Western Cana­dian dou­ble-A bantam base­ball cham­pi­onship.

The Knights locked up their sec­ond pro­vin­cial cham­pi­onship in two weeks Sun­day af­ter­noon in Burn­aby, where they de­feated the host Burn­aby Braves 7-1 to win the Base­ball BC pro­vin­cial ti­tle.

Be­hind the pitch­ing of Kolby Luk­inchuk, who al­lowed just five hits in seven com­plete in­nings, the Knights ad­vanced to the five-team Western Cana­dian cham­pi­onship which starts Fri­day in Strath­more, Alta.

“It was just sin­gles that did the job to­day,” said Knights as­sis­tant coach Dy­lan Luk­inchuk. “We didn’t have guys that were shoot­ing for the fence driv­ing dou­bles and triples, they just chipped away at the other team with walks and sin­gles. The meat of the or­der re­ally picked it up in the final to­day.”

The Knights scored one in the first in­ning, three in the sec­ond and two in the third for a 6-0 lead.

Ear­lier Sun­day they de­feated the Queens Park Roy­als of New West­min­ster 11-1 in the semi­fi­nal round, scor­ing 10 runs in the fifth in­ning. First-year mid­get pitcher Ja­cob Ross pitched his best game of the year, win­ning a duel with Roy­als starter Devon Flat­tery. Ross al­lowed just one hit and one run in five com­plete in­nings and drove in the first run of the game.

Lead-off hit­ter Kolby Luk­inchuk came to the plate twice as the Knights bat­ted through the en­tire or­der in the fifth in­ning. He de­liv­ered an RBI dou­ble and an­swered that with a run-scor­ing sin­gle to help the Knights to their 10-run lead, which wrapped it up in five in­nings.

“The first four in­nings was like an hour,” said Dy­lan Luk­inchuk. “It looked like it would be a 1-0 or 2-1 game un­til things broke open in the fifth in­ning there.

“The en­ergy was high in that game and it was a lot closer than peo­ple think. It felt like a very high-stakes game and it was, but when you have to win that and also play in the final, it makes for an event­ful day.

“Ja­cob Ross was a force in that game. When your pitcher can be fan­tas­tic de­fen­sively and help out of­fen­sively it feels good when guys el­e­vate their game be­cause they know what level we’re at and what level we’re go­ing to next week­end when we try to de­fend a ban­ner.”

The Braves ad­vanced with a 4-3 semi­fi­nal win over the Van­cou­ver Ex­pos.

The Knights wrapped up round-robin play with a 15-4 win over the Roy­als, which came af­ter a 13-3 vic­tory ear­lier Satur­day over the Lad­ner Red Sox. Kaelon Gibbs hit a three-run home run in that game.

The Knights won the BC Mi­nor 18U mid­get dou­ble-A pro­vin­cial cham­pi­onship a week ago in Kelowna. They will take on the Saskatchew­an cham­pi­ons from Unity in their first game at Westerns, Fri­day at 1:15 p.m PT. The other teams they’ll face in Strath­more are Al­tona, Man., Le­duc, Alta., and the host Strath­more Reds.

Mean­while, at the BC Mi­nor play­offs in Mis­sion, the PG Floor Fash­ions pee­wee Knights beat the Pen­tic­ton Tigers 7-3 for the 13U sin­gle-A pro­vin­cial cham­pi­onship.

Mitchal Haggelund pitched the first 1 1/3 in­nings un­til he hit his 40-pitch limit and Kar­son Husarski took over and went the final 5 2/3 in­nings on the mound for the Knights. Josh Sta­choski ig­nited the Prince Ge­orge of­fence with a two-run hit in the bot­tom of the first in­ning to erase a 2-0 deficit. He also trig­gered a four-run out­burst in the sixth in­ning which gave the Knights their lead.

In the semi­fi­nal round the Knights de­feated Ab­bots­ford An­gels Black 10-6 Sun­day. Haggelund and Lu­cas Pea­cock com­bined for the vic­tory. Pen­tic­ton handed Cloverdale its one and only loss of the sea­son in the other semi­fi­nal, elim­i­nat­ing the Spurs 9-2.

Prince Ge­orge went 2-2 in the pre­lim­i­nary round. Af­ter open­ing Thurs­day with an 18-0 loss to Cloverdale, the Knights blanked the Salmon Arm Hor­nets 10-0. On Satur­day the Knights fin­ished up with a 9-8 vic­tory over the Lad­ner Red Sox, af­ter an ear­lier 8-6 loss to the White Rock Tri­tons.

“Af­ter los­ing the first game 18-0 to Cloverdale no­body was too wor­ried about us, un­til this morning,” said pee­wee Knights head coach Derek Wood. “We came in here as the 10th seed and no­body ex­pected any­thing from us. We just ral­lied. Th­ese boys have worked so hard all sea­son and just been a group of brothers. We had great pitch­ing and great field­ing and some big RBIs.

“When teams come out of Prince Ge­orge and com­pete, it re­ally sur­prises peo­ple. It’s just a great group of kids, they were al­ways even-keel. Our motto the whole year was good body lan­guage, good at­ti­tude and good ef­fort and we just built in that the whole year. I’m 100 per cent pos­i­tive that’s how we were able to com­pete in the fi­nals. ”

Mean­while, at the Base­ball BC 15U bantam dou­ble-A cham­pi­onship in Chilli­wack, the Jep­son Petroleum bantam Knights fell one win short of their goal of play­ing for a Western Cana­dian cham­pi­onship when they lost Sun­day af­ter­noon 11-10 in the final to the Cowichan Val­ley Mus­tangs.

Down 9-3 head­ing into the fourth in­ning, the Mus­tangs scored seven unan­swered runs to beat the Knights, aveng­ing their 15-7 loss to Prince Ge­orge Tuesday in the BC Mi­nor Base­ball 15U dou­ble-A final in Prince Ge­orge.

The Mus­tangs scored the wining run on a walk-off sin­gle in the bot­tom of the sev­enth in­ning. Knights re­lief pitcher Lo­gan Dre­her gave up back-to-back dou­bles to start the in­ning. Knights starter Caleb Poitras lasted 3 1/3 in­nings, al­low­ing seven hits and six runs, five of which were earned.

In the semi­fi­nal ear­lier Sun­day, the Knights scored five runs in the fourth in­ning to top the Tri City Thun­der 7-2. The Mus­tangs crushed the Lad­ner Red Sox 23-2 Sun­day in the other bantam semi­fi­nal.

In the pre­lim­i­nary round play Satur­day, the bantam Knights lost 11-10 to the North Delta Rays. The Knights (2-1) opened with a 24-2 win over the Queens Park Roy­als, then de­feated the Lad­ner Red Sox 1-0.

The LTN Con­tract­ing mid­get Knights fin­ished the BC Mi­nor 18U sin­gle-A cham­pi­onship in Mis­sion with a 3-2 record but did not ad­vance to the play­off round at the 12-team tour­na­ment. The Knights lost 14-2 to the Nanaimo Pi­rates Satur­day af­ter­noon, which ended their sea­son. Prince Ge­orge kept its play­off hopes alive ear­lier in the day with a 14-13 tri­umph over the Van­cou­ver Cana­di­ans. The Knights started the tour­na­ment with con­sec­u­tive wins over Cloverdale, 108, and Mis­sion, 6-1, then lost 11-4 on Fri­day to the Van­cou­ver Moun­ties.

HAND­OUT PHOTO

The Prince Ge­orge Surg Med Knights are head­ing to the Western Cana­dian dou­bleA bantam base­ball cham­pi­onship af­ter win­ning the Base­ball BC ti­tle Sun­day.

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