Given a second crack at a berth in the provincial peewee AAA baseball championships, the Cowichan Valley Mustangs weren’t going to let it slip away.
The Mustangs narrowly missed out on the lone provincial berth reserved for a Vancouver Island team, losing a narrow one on July 12 to Victoria Black — a team they beat 6-4 just two weeks earlier. Wins over Nanaimo (9-0) and Victoria Red (10-0), however, gave Cowichan a chance to face Kelowna in a one-game showdown for a wildcard berth, and they made the best of it.
Starting pitcher Brandon LeBlanc dealt a no-hitter and Laine Hogstead blasted a home run to lead the Mustangs to a decisive 10-0 win and a place at the provincial tournament in Ladner this week.
“We got a lot of base hits and good base running,” head coach Trevor Bull commented about his team’s dominant performance against Kelowna.
The Mustangs had looked like locks for the Island berth in their game against Victoria Black, scoring four runs in the first inning and five in the third as they took a 10-6 lead into the seventh inning. Victoria turned the tide with five runs in the bottom of the seventh to walk off with the win.
The provincial tournament started on Thursday morning when the Mustangs faced Vancouver at 10 a.m., falling 12-0. There is lots more baseball to be played, though.
Cowichan’s lineup is “very solid” one through 13, Bull said, with good defence, hitting, pitching and base running. The Mustangs have the potential to do some damage at provincials.
“The biggest thing is to go there and play our game the best we can and see what happens from there,” Bull said.
The Mustangs have seen a few of their potential opponents at provincials, and played close games against all of them; any losses have been by between one and three runs.
“We haven’t run into a team we can’t beat yet,” Bull said. “It’s just a matter of who’s hot at the right time.”