Knights lose opener at Western Canadian championship
The start of the Western Canadian 18U midget double-A baseball championship in Strathmore, Alta., was delayed by rain.
That led to a power failure that dampened the spirits of the PG Surg Med Knights. They could only muster three hits in their opening game Friday evening which ended in a 3-1 loss to the Unity Cardinals of Saskatchewan.
The Cards got to Prince George pitcher Nolan Hull early and scored all three runs in the bottom of the first inning. Hull walked the first batter he faced, gave up a single, a double and another single which brought in the third run, but was airtight on the mound the rest of the game.
“The highlight of the game for us was our pitching,” said Knights assistant coach Dylan Lukinchuk. “Nolan Hull gave up three in the first inning but the next five innings he didn’t allow a run. He probably only gave up six or seven hits.”
Hull did his job the rest of the game, not allowing any more runs, but the Knights’ batters were unable to get him out of the hole. They threatened in the fourth inning with two on base and nobody out when Kolby Lukinchuk led off with a single and Derian Potskin also delivered a hit. The next batter, Jacob Ross, sacrificed, Jake Anker flied out and Kaelon Gibbs ground out to end the inning.
In the fifth, Luka Kim singled and stole two bases, then came home with the only Prince George run on a passed ball.
“We struggled hard today on offence, with only three base hits,” said Dylan Lukinchuk.
The start of the game was delayed four hours by an intense rain storm that left big puddles on the field. Tournament volunteers dumped wood chips to soak up the water and the first game of the day started at 1 p.m. Alberta time.
“The way we were slated to play was probably a good time but because of the rain delay I think maybe everyone got a little too comfortable sitting around and they didn’t have enough time to fully come around and mentally prep for the game,” said coach Lukinchuk.
“We still control our own destiny. If we win the next three games we’re in the final. We have two big games (Saturday) and we need two ‘W’s.’ We have to change our strategy after losing the first one.”
The Cardinals were playing the host Strathmore Reds and were in the third inning when the skies opened up. Unity went on to win that game 5-4 and now boasts a 2-0 record atop the five-team standings.
In the game that followed, the Altona Bisons of Manitoba beat the Leduc (Alta.) Giants 12-8.
The Knights have two games on Saturday. At 8 a.m. PT they play Altona, then take on Strathmore at 1:30 p.m. PT. Lukinchuk said the team hadn’t yet decided on a starting pitcher. The Knights wrap up preliminary round play Sunday at 8 a.m. PT against the Alberta champions from Leduc.
The final is scheduled for 4:45 p.m. PT on Sunday. If a tiebreaker is needed that would be played Sunday at 1:45 p.m. PT.