Nolan Fothergill mans third base for the Mustangs during their game on Tuesday against Union de Reyes. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Mixed results for AAA Mustangs in busy week before provincial tourney

Banged-up Cowichan team falls to Kelowna in regular-season finale

After a decisive win over the North Island Cubs last Wednesday and a doubleheader sweep of the Vernon Canadians on Saturday, the Cowichan Valley Mustangs ran out of gas going into a pair of games against the Kelowna Sun Devils on Sunday as they wrapped up the midget AAA baseball regular season.

Billy Ramwell did it all for the Mustangs against the Cubs at Evans Park last Wednesday, going 3-for-3 with a home run, seven RBIs and two steals as Cowichan mercied the Cubs 11-1. Ramwell also earned the win on the mound, pitching three innings and issuing four strikeouts while allowing just three hits.

Andrew Strobl also had a pair of hits, and Cam LeSergent and Tyler Dobson both matched Ramwell with two steals.

“That was a good game for us,” head coach Ken Ramwell said. “Good pitching, good hitting. They’ll be our first game at provincials, so it’s a good lead-in for that.”

The Mustangs headed to the Okanagan for the weekend, starting with 10-3 and 7-4 wins over Vernon on Saturday.

Cowichan actually trailed 2-1 after two innings of the first game and 3-2 after three, but scored one in the fifth, one in the sixth and six in the seventh

“I think we just have trouble getting up for the lower teams,” Ramwell said. “But we came back, and it was all good.”

Strobl and Nolan Fothergill were both 3-for-4 and Matteo Iorio was 2-for-3. Fothergill also led the way with four RBIs and LeSergent had two RBIs and two steals. Morley Scott started on the mound and struck out seven and gave up three hits and five walks over four innings. Hayden Plester struck out four over two innings to pick up the win, and Fothergill pitched the seventh, striking out three.

Dobson and Scott both went 2-for-2 as Cowichan outhit Vernon 8-2 in the second game. Scott and Iorio each had two RBIs, and Strobl stole three bases. It was a group effort on the mound as three players pitched, with Cameron Linn earning the win and LeSergent nabbing the save.

“They were the most boring two games you can ever imagine watching,” coach Ramwell said of the Vernon games. “They seemed to go on and on and on. I think the kids just wanted to get it over with and get to Kelowna.”

With only nine players available for the Kelowna games on Sunday, the Mustangs struggled and ended up losing 4-1 and 13-1.

Iorio came up with a heroic six-inning complete game in the opener as the Mustangs were outhit 8-5, scoring their lone run in the top of the first. Scott had a pair of hits, while LeSergent had a double and a steal.

Outhit 9-4 in the second game, the Mustangs scored their lone run in the top of the fourth. Scott had two hits, including a double, and Josh McCann had a steal. Dobson, Curtis Butler and LeSergent all pitched.

“We weren’t disappointed in the second game at all,” Ramwell said. “It gave us the opportunity for some less experienced players to pitch. The kids don’t get down because they know we’re right there when we have our pitching staff.”

In a brief return home, the Mustangs played visiting Cuban team Union de Reyes on Tuesday evening, and started the provincial tournament in Burnaby on Tuesday. The Mustangs have one goal going into provincials: to win it all and earn the victor’s berth in an elite-level tournament in New York.

“That’s what we’re there for,” Ramwell said. “We’ve been talking about New York; that’s the carrot dangling in front of us. After beating Kelowna at home [in two games on July 14], that showed us we’re right there.”

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