The Ladysmith 49ers’ victory in the semifinal of last week’s provincial peewee A baseball championship in Surrey wasn’t in question, but pitcher Mason Lonsberry’s no-hitter bid wasn’t quite wrapped up.
The 49ers were up 9-0 in the seventh inning against Kamloops and centrefielder Caleb Battye — one of two Duncan boys on the team — was going to do everything in his power to make sure no one got on base against Lonsberry. With one out on the board already, Battye made a running catch in deep centre for the second out. The next batter managed to send a fly ball to shallow right centre, and Battye ran as hard as he could, diving and stretching out to catch the third out, ending the game.
“I’d seen that on TV, but never at this level,” Battye’s mom, Jaime, said a couple of days later, still in awe.
When the opposing coach awarded game MVP honours to Lonsberry, he didn’t hesitate before handing the award over to Caleb.
“The crowd was teary and in shock that a 12-year-old would do such a thing,” Jaime said. “I can’t think of a word to describe the mood. It was crazy.”
Battye and fellow Duncan ballplayer Cullen Plester joined the 49ers this summer when Duncan didn’t field a peewee A summer team. Dru Wright of Chemainus also helped round out the roster. The dedication paid off for that trio when they won the B.C. championship, capping it all off with a 5-3 victory over Burnaby Minor last Monday.
“That was a hard game,” Caleb admitted.
Ladysmith and Burnaby were tied 2-2 going into the seventh before the 49ers scored three times in the top of the inning. Burnaby scored once before starting pitcher James Joyce had to come out due to his pitch count, and a reliever had to get the last two outs. He struck out one batter, walked the next, then struck out the last one to lock up the championship.
Plester, playing second base in the final, admitted he had butterflies in his stomach when the last batter got to two strikes.
The 49ers had previously breezed through the round robin, beating the Newton Jays 9-2 and Burnaby Minor 11-3 on Friday, PoCo 12-9 on Saturday, and Surrey 13-3 on Sunday. Battye was the starting pitcher in the fourth game, going four innings in the win. In that same game, Plester — a wall at second throughout the tournament — made one of his biggest defensive plays, sliding to block a ball in the dirt.
In addition to the championship and his game MVP trophy from Lonsberry, Battye also won a medal in the skills competition, playing the third base spot in the around-the-horn event where four players picked by their coaches throw the ball from catcher to first to second to third and back to catcher.