For the second straight year, the PG Surg Med Knights will represent B.C. in the Western Canadian double-A bantam baseball championship.
The Knights locked up their second provincial championship in two weeks Sunday afternoon in Burnaby, where they defeated the host Burnaby Braves 7-1 to win the Baseball BC provincial title.
Behind the pitching of Kolby Lukinchuk, who allowed just five hits in seven complete innings, the Knights advanced to the five-team Western Canadian championship which starts Friday in Strathmore, Alta.
“It was just singles that did the job today,” said Knights assistant coach Dylan Lukinchuk. “We didn’t have guys that were shooting for the fence driving doubles and triples, they just chipped away at the other team with walks and singles. The meat of the order really picked it up in the final today.”
The Knights scored one in the first inning, three in the second and two in the third for a 6-0 lead.
Earlier Sunday they defeated the Queens Park Royals of New Westminster 11-1 in the semifinal round, scoring 10 runs in the fifth inning. First-year midget pitcher Jacob Ross pitched his best game of the year, winning a duel with Royals starter Devon Flattery. Ross allowed just one hit and one run in five complete innings and drove in the first run of the game.
Lead-off hitter Kolby Lukinchuk came to the plate twice as the Knights batted through the entire order in the fifth inning. He delivered an RBI double and answered that with a run-scoring single to help the Knights to their 10-run lead, which wrapped it up in five innings.
“The first four innings was like an hour,” said Dylan Lukinchuk. “It looked like it would be a 1-0 or 2-1 game until things broke open in the fifth inning there.
“The energy was high in that game and it was a lot closer than people think. It felt like a very high-stakes game and it was, but when you have to win that and also play in the final, it makes for an eventful day.
“Jacob Ross was a force in that game. When your pitcher can be fantastic defensively and help out offensively it feels good when guys elevate their game because they know what level we’re at and what level we’re going to next weekend when we try to defend a banner.”
The Braves advanced with a 4-3 semifinal win over the Vancouver Expos.
The Knights wrapped up round-robin play with a 15-4 win over the Royals, which came after a 13-3 victory earlier Saturday over the Ladner Red Sox. Kaelon Gibbs hit a three-run home run in that game.
The Knights won the BC Minor 18U midget double-A provincial championship a week ago in Kelowna. They will take on the Saskatchewan champions from Unity in their first game at Westerns, Friday at 1:15 p.m PT. The other teams they’ll face in Strathmore are Altona, Man., Leduc, Alta., and the host Strathmore Reds.
Meanwhile, at the BC Minor playoffs in Mission, the PG Floor Fashions peewee Knights beat the Penticton Tigers 7-3 for the 13U single-A provincial championship.
Mitchal Haggelund pitched the first 1 1/3 innings until he hit his 40-pitch limit and Karson Husarski took over and went the final 5 2/3 innings on the mound for the Knights. Josh Stachoski ignited the Prince George offence with a two-run hit in the bottom of the first inning to erase a 2-0 deficit. He also triggered a four-run outburst in the sixth inning which gave the Knights their lead.
In the semifinal round the Knights defeated Abbotsford Angels Black 10-6 Sunday. Haggelund and Lucas Peacock combined for the victory. Penticton handed Cloverdale its one and only loss of the season in the other semifinal, eliminating the Spurs 9-2.
Prince George went 2-2 in the preliminary round. After opening Thursday with an 18-0 loss to Cloverdale, the Knights blanked the Salmon Arm Hornets 10-0. On Saturday the Knights finished up with a 9-8 victory over the Ladner Red Sox, after an earlier 8-6 loss to the White Rock Tritons.
“After losing the first game 18-0 to Cloverdale nobody was too worried about us, until this morning,” said peewee Knights head coach Derek Wood. “We came in here as the 10th seed and nobody expected anything from us. We just rallied. These boys have worked so hard all season and just been a group of brothers. We had great pitching and great fielding and some big RBIs.
“When teams come out of Prince George and compete, it really surprises people. It’s just a great group of kids, they were always even-keel. Our motto the whole year was good body language, good attitude and good effort and we just built in that the whole year. I’m 100 per cent positive that’s how we were able to compete in the finals. ”
Meanwhile, at the Baseball BC 15U bantam double-A championship in Chilliwack, the Jepson Petroleum bantam Knights fell one win short of their goal of playing for a Western Canadian championship when they lost Sunday afternoon 11-10 in the final to the Cowichan Valley Mustangs.
Down 9-3 heading into the fourth inning, the Mustangs scored seven unanswered runs to beat the Knights, avenging their 15-7 loss to Prince George Tuesday in the BC Minor Baseball 15U double-A final in Prince George.
The Mustangs scored the wining run on a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh inning. Knights relief pitcher Logan Dreher gave up back-to-back doubles to start the inning. Knights starter Caleb Poitras lasted 3 1/3 innings, allowing seven hits and six runs, five of which were earned.
In the semifinal earlier Sunday, the Knights scored five runs in the fourth inning to top the Tri City Thunder 7-2. The Mustangs crushed the Ladner Red Sox 23-2 Sunday in the other bantam semifinal.
In the preliminary round play Saturday, the bantam Knights lost 11-10 to the North Delta Rays. The Knights (2-1) opened with a 24-2 win over the Queens Park Royals, then defeated the Ladner Red Sox 1-0.
The LTN Contracting midget Knights finished the BC Minor 18U single-A championship in Mission with a 3-2 record but did not advance to the playoff round at the 12-team tournament. The Knights lost 14-2 to the Nanaimo Pirates Saturday afternoon, which ended their season. Prince George kept its playoff hopes alive earlier in the day with a 14-13 triumph over the Vancouver Canadians. The Knights started the tournament with consecutive wins over Cloverdale, 10-8, and Mission, 6-1, then lost 11-4 on Friday to the Vancouver Mounties.
© Copyright Prince George Citizen
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