Cowichan Valley Mustangs claim Island bantam baseball title

The Cowichan Valley Mustangs’ bats came alive in the first inning of their first game at the Island bantam AA baseball championships in Victoria last weekend, and never went quiet.

The Mustangs scored seven runs in the top of the first against the Victoria Stingers on their way to a 27-2 win and a perfect 4-0 record at the tournament, leading to a berth at provincials.

The team went on to beat Nanaimo 13-8 and 10-3 before closing out with another victory over Victoria, this time 14-3 in just five innings.

Jake Winter hit a home run in the fourth game, while Matt Miller had a triple, Brandon Langer, Cam LeSergent and Kale Eddy had doubles and Zach Waddington added two singles. Andrew Strobl, Brady Radcliffe, Cole Anderson, James McMahon, Nicholas Yu, and Tanner Cummings added to the total with one single apiece.

Eddy earned the win on the mound, pitching four innings and giving up six hits and three runs while striking out seven.

Waddington led the team with 10 hits over the Mustangs’ four games, and joined LeSergent and Winter in hitting homers. Waddington, Miller, LeSergent and Radcliffe each had a triple, and Yu, Strobl and Radcliffe tied for the team lead with three steals apiece. Yu also pitched a team-high nine innings over the tournament and gave up just three runs.

By winning Islands, the Mustangs advance to the provincial championship in Burnaby, beginning this Thursday. While winning Islands is a big deal, the Mustangs hope it’s just the beginning.

"It’s kind of a stepping stone," coach Tod LeSergent said. "You never want to be overconfident. We wanted to get through Islands with the bigger goal of winning provincials and going to Western Canadians." To win provincials, the Mustangs will have to find a way to keep the offensive onslaught going.

"We’re hoping our bats can be as effective with the step up in pitching we’re expecting to see," LeSergent said. "The Mainland teams will have a few fireballers, so we’ll see if our bats can handle their pitching as well as they have done on the Island."

The Mustangs are hoping to get a crack at Aldergrove, a team they’ve seen play, but haven’t faced. "In our limited exposure to Mainland teams, they seem to be the team to beat," LeSergent said. "Hopefully they see us that way, too."