With Tri-Port Minor Baseball’s season starting to wind down, the president of the organization, Ryan Handley, sent the Gazette some thoughts on the season.
The Peewee team was made up of 14 relatively new players, either playing their first or second season of baseball. Players represented all three port towns: Alice, McNeill and Hardy. They were keen to learn and great sports. The highlight of the season so far was the Chemainus peewee tournament where they faced teams with far greater experience. Even though they didn’t come out on top, they played with heart and came away with the Most Sportsmanship trophy! The team also travelled to Campbell River for a double header in May. The peewees still have a couple of local games lined up, including a fun game with the Bantam team on June 22.
It’s been a quick but successful season for the Tri-Port Thunder bantams. They travelled south to Campbell River on May 12 for a pair of exhibition games. While the team lost both games they were both very competitive and close, and they had some good moments in both games where new kids were able to gain some much needed experience.
On May 26, the team headed back down for two more games. While the results were the same, the Thunder were definitely in both games and just came up short. On June 1-3, the team took 11 players down to a tournament in Duncan which saw them turn some heads in four very close and hard fought games.
Game one saw the team match up against a top Duncan team which they pushed to their limit, losing 9-5, and game two saw the Thunder go up against another local Duncan team and it was a pitching and defence battle as the local team came away with a 5-1 win. They played some really good defence and made a couple top notch plays, but I thought we did a great job of putting the bat on the ball and forcing them to play defence.
On Sunday, the team drew the Vancouver Giants and came out with purpose. The Giants scored two in the top half, but the Thunder answered back with a five run max inning in the bottom half.
The boys really started playing smart ball and taking good swings and we had a great first inning. Inning two would prove to be a tough one for the Thunder, as we walked a few guys and missed a couple plays and they took advantage. Knowing the Thunder needed a win to keep playoff hopes alive, we brought in our number one pitcher David Klatt to stop the bleeding.
Klatter is a guy who has all the tools.
We have some good throwers with Griffin Handley, Joey Grant, Keenan Saunders and a few newer guys, but David is our all around hardest and most consistent guy.
With none out and the bases loaded, Klatt looked to stall the Giants’ offence but quickly it looked like he was off. He said he’d been battling a sore shoulder, but added he was good to go, as the day before he struck out six straight on just 22 pitches.
Klatt walked the first batter and then was called for a balk which seemed to throw him off. The inning ended with five runs scored, all on three walks and five balk calls, and the Giants went ahead 7-5.
It was frustrating, I had no issue with the second balk but the rest were too borderline, and in my mind, his motion had stopped long enough. With runners on base, a pitcher has various things they have to be careful of in their delivery. The umpire said he wasn’t coming to a stop from set to delivery position, which I let him know I disagreed with.
It threw the young pitcher off and after one inning he was lifted and the Thunder couldn’t recover. They battled right to the end and put up a five run inning in the fifth to make it close.
Game four was a rematch of game one and it was Griffin Handley who threw everything at another local Duncan team, throwing 82 pitches in three 2/3 innings.
He was throwing strikes and making them hit the ball, but our defence cost us a few outs and prolonged innings.
The group fought all game, both Griffin Handley and Josh Nielsen added two doubles each, and numerous other players had good games and weekends. We were very proud of their effort level. Baseball is a tough game to learn and we have some kids with natural ability and others that are coming along and learning the game while enjoying the process.
For the first time ever, the league entered a Mosquito team into a spring prospects league, in which they hosted four games and travelled to both Comox and Campbell River for two games each. It was a huge opportunity for this group. We knew with 25 kids and two teams it was going to be difficult to get all of them enough playing time. However, it was still a great decision and it gave the kids eight meaningful games to hone their skills and gain a lot of experience.
It was tough at times, as many as 16 kids agreed to the travel that the season presented, and for the coaching staff, it was a revolving door every inning to get kids into games and involved. The coaches at this level did a fantastic job with what they had to work with. The team also was able to enter two teams in a Chemainus tournament June 1-3 and they played very well. Both teams had very close games, with three or four one run losses and a tie mixed into the weekend. I was able to watch a couple games on Friday night and they were both exciting and close. All in all, another very successful tournament for these kids and games we need to move forward.
The Tadpole division also ventured south on June 2 for a two-game mini series that the kids enjoyed very much. This is an important learning level and the association wants to thank Mitchell Blackmore and Sarah Ling for taking on the coaching duties for this group. In years past, the Tadpole group has been in a couple of tournaments down island, but those tournaments were not run this year for various reasons. It was a challenge to find them some games with the tournaments not running, but Nicole Handley worked hard on arranging this for them.
Vanessa Roach was the coach for the team this year and they had 45 minute practices twice a week and had a lot of fun learning to play the game.
Tri-Port Minor Ball hopes to have players in all divisions next season and looks to become bigger and better! I just want to take a moment to thank all the individuals who put in a tremendous amount of time and effort from the coaches to the managers and a huge shout out to Erin Klatt for all the work she puts into the concessions, they are a huge success and that’s all her.
We hope to see everyone back in 2019. As an association, we have gone to greater heights this year. With a registration of more than 90 kids this season, it’s easily our most successful year yet.
Nicole Handley was very much at the forefront of everything and deserves much of the credit for where we are today, she did a ton of leg work making sure the season happened.
Without her persistence, we would not be where we are today.
– submitted by Ryan Handley, President of Tri-Port Minor Ball