After a third-place finish at the qualifying tournament for the national championships last weekend, the peewee AAA Cowichan Valley Mustangs had a few days to regroup before playing host to the provincial championships this coming weekend.
The Mustangs won twice and lost once in the round robin at the qualifier in Kamloops, then were beaten in a close 10-7 semifinal against the Abbotsford Angels on Sunday. Kamloops won the tournament and will travel to nationals in London, Ont., while second-place Abbotsford will play for the Western Canadian title in Saskatoon.
“The boys were a little bit disappointed,” Cowichan head coach Mike McKinlay said. “We were in the driver’s seat, and we still had a lot of our pitchers. It was our fourth game [of the tournament] and the other team’s fifth game. The other team had used up a lot of their pitchers, but they got hits at the right time. We hit the ball well all tournament, but we cooled down in the last three innings.”
The Mustangs held the lead after three innings of play, but the Angels came back as the game progressed.
“It was well-played,” McKinlay said. “It was a very entertaining game.”
Cowichan opened the tournament with an 8-7 win over the Richmond Chuckers on Thursday, then beat the Cloverdale Spurs 6-4 on Friday before being mercied by the Kelowna RiverDogs in their last round-robin game.
The Mustangs will host the provincial tournament at Evans Park this weekend, and McKinlay is looking for continued success.
“We hope to do the same, to get into at least the championship round,” he said.
The 10 teams at the tournament are divided into two pools of five for the round robin, and the top two in each pool move on to the playoffs.
The Mustangs played their first game on Thursday, against the same Kamloops team that won the right to represent B.C. at nationals, and McKinlay was ready for a challenge.
“All teams are beatable, but they’re definitely a tough team,” he said.
In their remaining games, Cowichan will play Burnaby on Friday at 3 p.m., Victoria on Saturday at 9 a.m. and Ladner on Saturday at 3 p.m. The finals are set for 2 p.m. on Sunday.