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Knights time, midget provincials in P.G.

Throw strikes, young man, throw strikes.

Throw strikes, young man, throw strikes.

You could put that on a tape recorder and show Randy Potskin the play button for this weekend's 10-team midget AA provincial baseball tournament, which starts Thursday at Prince George Citizen Field and Rotary Field.

With no dominant, ace-type pitcher among the deep contingent of arms at the disposal of Potskin, the manager of the Prince George IDL midget Knights, he'll be looking for efficient outings borne of first strikes and low pitch counts in a quest to play for the B.C. title.

Play begins Thursday morning at 9 a.m., and the opening ceremonies are slated for 6 p.m., Friday's action resumes at 9 a.m., while Saturday play starts at 10 a.m. Playoff games in the form of any necessary tie-breakers, will be played on Saturday afternoon, and the semifinal contests will open at 9 a.m. on Sunday. The final is Sunday afternoon at 1.

All the managers will find themselves not just juggling rosters, but doing the math on pitch limitations that will test the depth of the contending teams.

"We don't have that big ace, but we have older guys who have been through this before and they have to lead us," said Potskin.

"This is their second provincials and it's guys like Dylan Johnson who have to lead by example. He's probably our hardest thrower, and we'll need a lot of strikes from guys like Bubba Lyell, Taylor Callander and Garrett Belanger, who has been our most consistent pitcher. We'll need quality innings where we limit our walks and our defence does the work.

"With the rules, we've known we were going to need a lot of pitchers for this so we've been getting a lot of guys a chance to throw so we can get through all these games. You have to get to the playoff round, then you have to have some pitching when you get there."

Potskin has even had outfielder Jody Hannon, who has a booming arm, getting comfortable on the mound to give depth should a mop-up situation present itself.

Potskin's help on the coaching staff comes from Derek Knight an Todd Patterson. Other team members are Reg Barry, Aaron Antonenko, Brandon Graham, Jarrett Potskin, Calvin Todd, Tanner Wheeler, Lyndon Toews and Keefer Zohner.

With the busy travel schedule the Knights have had this season, they know some of the competition they'll be facing.

"We've played a few of the teams already this season, so that's given us an idea of what we'll be up against," said Potskin.

"Still, you never know because there are seven other teams we haven't seen yet and our side of the draw looks tough. We've played Vancouver twice and split those games, and that's a good test of where we sit. The difference in those games was pitching.

"I think the top eight teams will have a good chance to win the tournament and anything can happen."

Ridge Meadows, Surrey and Victoria are also in Prince George's pool, with the other grouping comprised of Gibsons, Ladner, Richmond, Cloverdale and Richmond.

Potskin is happy to see so many teams making the trek north to one of the top ballparks in Western Canada.

"The guys are excited to have this tournament in Prince George, and the fact we've played in the park a lot is a plus for us," said Potskin.

"Rotary Field is not in the best shape and there are funny bounces, so there's no advantage there, but Citizen Field will impress the teams that are coming up. If they don't know about it, they'll be in for a pleasant surprise. Getting 10 teams here is amazing, that's not usual to see all the teams decide to come up here."

The Knights were healthy until two weeks ago when infielder Jordan Patterson lost a friendly-fire collision in shallow right field during a senior men's league game, breaking his leg. The Knights now have to make due at second base, the usual position for Patterson

"Other than Jordan, we're healthy going into the tournament," said Potskin.

"We feel bad for Jordan, we know he'd love to be out there playing, and we wish we had him."