The B.C. champions are ready to swing their bats for an even bigger prize.
The IDL Knights will leave Prince George this morning, bound for Morden, Man., host community for the Western Canadian midget double-A baseball championship. Playing as Team B.C., the Knights will step to the dish against champs from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba and will also take on a host Morden club. The tournament starts on Friday and the winner will be determined on Sunday.
If the Knights perform as well as they did in winning provincials, they expect to be in the mix for western gold.
"In provincials, we played a lot more like a team and everything went as planned so if we can do that again hopefully we'll be able to take home the championship," said Cole Laviolette, a 17-year-old catcher for the Knights. "Everybody's excited to make the big trip. It's going to be a lot of fun."
At provincials, held July 26-29 at Citizen Field, the Knights posted a 5-1 record and beat the Tsawwassen A's 7-3 in the final. For the locals, westerns will start with a Friday game against Saskatchewan (Swift Current). The Knights will battle Manitoba and Alberta on Saturday and will end round-robin play with a Sunday contest against Morden. The top two teams will advance to the final later that day.
It has been said many times that pitching and defence win championships in baseball. The Knights are good in both areas.
On the mound, they are led by the powerful arms of Jared Young and Brandon Graham. Reg Barry is also an effective starter and, for westerns, the club has picked up a trio of chuckers in Justin DeRoy, Cory McCoy and Nick Demak. DeRoy, a member of the A's at provincials, can start or come out of the bullpen. Same goes for Kelowna's McCoy, as well as Demak. The Knights can also lean on their own relievers, including Jody Hannon.
Having depth on the hill will be oh-so important because of the strict pitch-count rules at the western championship. After a pitcher has made his 40th offering in a game, he is required to rest for a full day.
"We loaded up on a few more pitchers to help us," said Knights coach Randy Young. "We've got a good team, obviously, but with those kinds of limits you need more pitching."
Preventing runs is where the Knights really shine when they're on their game.
"We're strong at every spot on the field," Laviolette said.
"We all really want to win this to show that Prince George can actually play baseball and put us up a little higher than just double-A."
Other team members are Mark Mosure, Keefer Zohner, Cole Waldie, Nick Potskin, Jarrett Potskin, Jordan Patterson, Jesse Knoop, Brennen Bredo, Tre Potskin and Body Wicki. Tim Knoop is the manager, while Todd Patterson and Randy Potskin complete the coaching staff.