Knights lose opener at Western Cana­dian cham­pi­onship

The Prince George Citizen - - Sports - Cit­i­zen staff

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.

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