The U15 AA Cowichan Valley Mustangs are now Team BC.
The Cowichan team will represent the province at the Western Canada Baseball Championships, which begin this Friday in Strathmore, Alberta.
“I think the kids are all really excited,” Mustangs head coach Trevor Bull said. “It’s quite an accomplishment for them.”
The Mustangs earned the honour by winning the Baseball BC provincial championships in Chilliwack this past weekend, beating the same Prince George Knights team that they lost to in the final of the BC Minor Baseball provincial tournament in Prince George just days earlier.
After going undefeated in the round robin at the Baseball BC championships in Chilliwack, Cowichan crushed the fourth-ranked Ladner team 12-2 in the semifinal to set up the rematch with top-ranked Prince George. The Knights jumped out to a 9-1 lead after two innings, but the Mustangs battled back to make it 9-8 after five. Cowichan scored the tying and winning runs in the bottom of the seventh on back-to-back-to-back doubles.
As much of a nail-biter as the game was, the players handled it well.
“They were honestly a little more calm in the seventh than I would have expected,” Bull said. “We’ve had a good offence all year, and we knew we needed one run to tie it and we had a lot of speed coming up in the order.”
Because of rain delays, the BC Minor Baseball tournament in Prince George was stretched to six days from the scheduled three, and it ended with the host Knights defeating the Mustangs 15-7. The Cowichan players had their sights set on the Chilliwack tournament and the possibility of representing B.C., but as the Prince George tournament carried on, they wanted more and more to win that one, so losing in the final provided extra motivation in Chilliwack.
“We came out this weekend with a chip on our shoulder,” Bull said. “We were looking for revenge after the lopsided loss to Prince George at [their] home.”
During the tournament in Prince George, Cowichan’s Jace Hamm out-slugged Brenden Gaboury of the hometown Knights 10-4 in the final to win the home run derby.
The Mustangs fly to Alberta on Thursday morning, along with a couple of players from Prince George who they picked up for the Western Canada Championships.
“Coming out of B.C., we’ve made it farther than anyone else in B.C.,” Bull noted. “We get to call ourselves Team BC for one more weekend.”
The tournament field includes two teams from Alberta — the host club and the provincial champion — and one each from Saskatchewan and Manitoba. It consists of a four-game round robin, with the top two teams meeting again in the final.
The players have learned a lot this season, he said, and they’ve already come a long way, but it’s not over yet.
“Everyone would love to come home with a medal around their necks as well,” Bull said.