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PHOTOS: Noah Lank, Prince George Bantam Knights dominant in provincials opener

Pitcher threw 10 strikeouts, clobbers homer in 7-3 win over Vancouver

8:30 a.m. (Aug. 2)

The committee for the 2019 B.C. Minor Baseball 15U AA Championships has cancelled all eight of its games today (Aug. 2) in Prince George.

Overnight rain has led to poor field conditions at Nechako Park.

The Bantam Knights were scheduled to play at 9 a.m. this morning.

6:55 p.m. (Aug. 1)

Everything seemed to fall into place for the Prince George Bantam AA Knights to begin the 2019 B.C. Minor Baseball Championships on home soil.

Pitcher Noah Lank struck out 10 of the 19 batters he faced from Vancouver at the Nechako Park and was the game's MVP in helping his team to a 7-3 victory, earning a taste of revenge after losing to the Expos in the 2018 provincial final.

He says he stuck with his fast and curveballs at Nechako Park, which helped him boost his confidence on the hill for the Knights.

“It made me feel really good to show out in front of a lot of people in the stands,” he said, also adding his arm didn’t feel sore or stiff after the game. “A lot of people I know, lots of friends so it felt really good to do well. [The nerves] was okay, I mean, I was nervous at the start, but I felt way better by the end. Once the first pitch was sent, I felt a lot better.”

Lank got to over 70 pitches in the team’s provincials opener, and also contributed in a big way at the plate.

On his third at-bat, Lank clobbered a high-fly ball over centerfield and out of the park for a solo home run and the 7-1 advantage going into the sixth inning.

He says he’s not that much of a hitter, but credits his coaches for teaching him to be useful at the plate as much as he is on the mound.

“I haven’t been [a big hitter] for the last couple of years, but I knew I had it in me. So I put it together to fix my swing and it feels a lot better. I went through training, and just Curtis [Sawchuk] helping me out, Doug [Clark] helping me out, and Justin [Fillion].”

Altogether, the Knights had eight hits and just one error to start the tournament with an early 1-0 record and Head Coach Curtis Sawchuk is proud of how his team collected themselves early on.

“There’s a lot of, you know, nervous energy that you could kind of tell that they had,” Sawchuk told PrinceGeorgeMatters after the win. “So it was good to kind of get our feet under us, play the game that we did, and there was a lot of bats early too. Noah [Lank] threw well on the mound; you can’t complain with the outing he gave us, he got through five in under 75 pitches, so we kept him where we wanted to.”

Getting the chance to beat the Vancouver Expos was also a huge sigh of relief for Sawchuk, who had to witness his team collapse in a game they could’ve easily won the league pennant.

“The team was really excited to get that one back,” he explained. “It was a 7-0 lead we blew last year, so that one hurt and we missed out on a trip to San Diego we could’ve gone to. But, the boys were really excited about winning this one right in front of their hometown here. We’re just happy to get the first one out of the way and we’ve still got some work to do.”

As for Noah Lank, he’ll won’t be back on the hill until Saturday (Aug. 3) morning when Prince George hosts the Ladner Red Sox.

No matter what happens in the tournament, Lank stressed the importance of seizing the moment.

“I had a lot of fun out there,” he said with a smile. “We just gotta keep doing what we’re doing. Stay locked in with the games and just have fun.”

The Bantam AA Knights get the early start tomorrow (Aug. 2), 9 a.m. as they take on the Burnaby Braves at Nechako Park.