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Thunder Roar! UBC Captures first ever BC Junior Premier Baseball Championship

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UBC's Ryan Kennedy celebrates the first score of the game against Whalley in the final game Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Full BCJPBL Championship Wrap-Up

Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart

August 30, 2021, Surrey, BC – The UBC Thunder captured their first ever BC Junior Premier Baseball League championship on Sunday afternoon, defeating the host Whalley Chiefs 10-1 on a beautiful day at Whalley Athletic Park in Surrey.

UBC’s Lucas Huynh reacts and flips his bat after walking against the Chiefs (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

The Thunder broke open a tense, scoreless tie by scoring eight runs in the bottom of the fourth inning and cruised from there, using a solid defence and great pitching to keep Whalley batters at bay and to shut down any potential threats before they got started.

UBC’s Levi Soper delivers a pitch in the final game against Whalley (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Lucas Soper got the start in the final and while he was not 100% perfect, his defence picked him up early, including a perfect throw to the plate to nail a Chiefs baserunner trying to score and he got some clutch outs himself that kept the game scoreless into the fourth.

UBC catcher Rico Domingo puts the tag on the Chiefs Eric Burshtynski on this play at the plate early in Sunday’s final (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

The Thunder used some solid defence against the Chiefs early to keep the game knotted at 0-0 into the fourth inning (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

When he faltered later in the game, reliever Jaron Palaschuk stepped in to get out of an initial jam and then went the rest of the way to get the final out and begin the celebration.

UBC’s Jaron Palaschuk (left) is congratulated by Freddie Sale after getting UBC out of a jam late in the final against Whalley (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

The Thunder, who finished the regular season with one of the best records in the BCJPBL (21-15), had a bit of a scare en route to the finals, winning a pair of close and tense games in the round robin portion of their tournament Friday, including a 3-1 win over the White Rock Tritons and then holding on to defeat a pesky Victoria Eagles team 3-2.

UBC’s Ryan Kennedy catches North Shore’s Cam McLeod in a rundown in the semi-final Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

That was enough to earn them a first place seed and a re-match with White Rock on Saturday in the ultimate play-in game in their pool. White Rock, who had beaten the Eagles 12-9 Friday, earned the re-match by beating the Eagles again Saturday, this time by a close 5-3 score.

The Twins Cam McLeod slides safely into second ahead of the throw to UBC’s Ryan Hsu during the semi-final Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

In the play-in game, the Thunder dominated, cruising to a fast 7-0 win and moving them into Sunday’s semi-finals against the North Shore Twins. The Twins earned their way into the semis thanks to a pair of nail-biting round robin wins over the Victoria Mariners (5-4) and the Chiefs (7-6).

They would not have the same luck against the Thunder however, as UBC would score runs in each of the first four innings and cruise to a relatively easy, 13-hit 7-4 win.

Twins left fielder Declan Barry makes a valiant effort for this hit in the semis against UBC (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Relatively easy because starter Freddie Sale went the distance and kept the Twins at bay, allowing the four runs on just seven hits while striking out three.

UBC’s Freddie Sale had a complete game win over North Shore in the semi-finals Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

For the Chiefs, their route to the finals, was straightforward because as hosts, they had a bye to the semi-finals. They did play spoilers early though, defeating the always strong Langley Blaze 6-4 on Friday – a loss that combined with the Blaze’s 4-3 loss to the Mariners knocked them out of contention – before dropping the 7-6 decision to the Twins and an 8-3 decision to the Mariners.

Whalley’s Parkor Sarai (33) and Dio Gama (34) head around the bases en route to scoring on a triple from Ryan Holford in the first semi-final Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

The Chief’s Ryan Holford strokes a two-RBI triple in the semi-final against the Pirates (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

In the semis, the Chiefs met up with the surprising Mid-Island Pirates (16-20 in the regular season), who in perhaps the biggest upset of the tournament, defeated the (26-8) Coquitlam Reds 3-0 Saturday night in the deciding game of the Pool B round robin to earn their way into the final four.

Whalley reliever Marcus Siemens was solid in relief against the Pirates in the first semi-final Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

 

Whalley second baseman Lleyton Anselmo reacts after scoring against the Pirates on Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

It appeared in Sunday’s highly emotional semi-final that the Pirates magic would continue, as they held a 4-2 lead into the seventh inning, however the Chiefs would stage an amazing comeback, scoring six runs in the top of the inning and then blanking the Pirates in the bottom half, to escape with the 8-4 win.

The Pirates had plenty to celebrate for most of the game Sunday as they took a 4-2 lead into the seventh inning against Whalley (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

The Pirates Trevor Foley does his best Freddie Mercury impression after a double against Whalley (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

In the finals, UBC’s Soper and the Chief’s Dowon Kim went toe-to-toe through the first few innings, both teams helping their pitchers out with solid defence, until Kim seemed to run out of gas in the bottom of the fourth, an inning that just seemed would never end, as the Thunder kept finding ways to score.

Whalley second baseman Lleyton Anselmo looks for the call after putting the tag on the Pirate’s Graham Stephen on this play at second in the first semi-final Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Whalley would finally break the goose-egg with a run in the fifth inning, but it would not be enough as the Thunder would add another in each of the fifth and sixth innings to close out the 10-1 win.

The Chief’s Kai Scheck was a key hitting cog for the Chiefs in their route to Sunday’s final (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Like the Premier league finals held over the August long weekend, Sunday’s Junior finals, put as normal a finish on the season as it could, given the delayed start of the season because of COVID and early travel restrictions that saw many teams only play one opponent over the first eight games of the year.

UBC’s Lucas Huynh celebrates a hit by catcher Rico Domingo during the final against Whalley (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

However, the bottom line is that for all players involved, many of whom have not had the chance to play meaningful games for a season and a half, just being back on the field, playing a game they love, was reward enough. This was evidenced by one Thunder player overhead on the bench just prior to the completion of the finals, “I’m so pumped! We’ve waited two years for this boys!”

The UBC Thunder celebrate their win as Whalley’s Kai Scheck (25) and Head Coach David Hadlow (64) walk off the field (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Congratulations to the UBC Thunder on their 2021 Junior title and season. And congratulations to the Chiefs, Pirates and Twins on their playoff runs, as well as to all teams in the BCJPBL for making the best of the 2021 season.

The 2021 BC Junior Premier League Champions UBC Thunder (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

All photos from the Junior Premier Semi-Finals and Final, plus a couple of round robin games on Saturday will eventually find their way to Christian J. Stewart’s web site at https://christianjstewart.zenfolio.com/jpbl2021

BC Premier Baseball League

2024 Langley Blaze Invitational Tournament

Share 2024 Langley Blaze Invitational Tournament – Schedule Released May 22, 2024 10:32 AM PDT From langleyblaze.com:   May 22.24- The highly anticipated schedule for the 2024 Langley Blaze Invitational Tournament has been officially released! The tournament, set to take place from June 5-9, promises to bring exciting baseball action to Langley and surrounding communities, featuring…

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2024 Langley Blaze Invitational Tournament – Schedule Released

May 22, 2024

10:32 AM PDT

From langleyblaze.com:

 

May 22.24- The highly anticipated schedule for the 2024 Langley Blaze Invitational Tournament has been officially released! The tournament, set to take place from June 5-9, promises to bring exciting baseball action to Langley and surrounding communities, featuring top-tier teams from across Canada.

This year’s Invitational will see elite baseball teams competing in Langley, Abbotsford, White Rock and Richmond, with games spanning five days of intense competition. Teams from British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario will showcase their talents, vying for the coveted championship title that will be given out at McLeod Field in Langley on Sunday afternoon June 9.

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BC Premier Baseball League

KEN HATTON MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONS

From the Blaze website: This past weekend, the JR Blaze showcased remarkable resilience and skill, capturing the Ken Hatton Memorial Tournament title in a thrilling journey marked by highs, lows, and an ultimate triumph. The tournament kicked off on a challenging note for the Blaze, as they faced a formidable opponent in the Whalley Chiefs.…

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From the Blaze website:

This past weekend, the JR Blaze showcased remarkable resilience and skill, capturing the Ken Hatton Memorial Tournament title in a thrilling journey marked by highs, lows, and an ultimate triumph.

The tournament kicked off on a challenging note for the Blaze, as they faced a formidable opponent in the Whalley Chiefs. Despite a valiant effort, the Blaze fell short, losing 7-3.

In Game 2, the Blaze rebounded, dominating the Victoria Mariners with a decisive 7-0 victory. 

The journey hit another bump in Game 3 against the Mid Island Pirates. Despite putting up a strong fight, the Blaze were edged out 8-5.

Entering the quarterfinals, the JR Blaze were up against the Victoria Eagles. With a place in the semifinals at stake, the Blaze delivered a powerful performance, defeating the Eagles 5-1.

In the semifinals, the Blaze faced the Kamloops Riverdogs 18u, a team 2-3 years older. In a match that tested their mettle, the Blaze emerged victorious with a solid 3-0 win.

The final showdown saw the JR Blaze once again facing the Whalley Chiefs, the team that handed them their initial loss. This time, however, the Blaze were determined to rewrite the script. They stormed the field with an unyielding spirit, leading to a resounding 8-1 victory.

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Canadian Futures Showcase Tryouts Coming to both Langley and UBC!

Share Canadian Futures Showcase Tryouts Coming to both Langley and UBC!   The Canadian Futures Showcase is a national amateur baseball showcase held each September and hosted by the Blue Jays Baseball Academy. The goal is to provide a showcase opportunity for the best amateur baseball players born in Canada, with draft and college eligibility. It acts…

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Canadian Futures Showcase Tryouts Coming to both Langley and UBC!

 

The Canadian Futures Showcase is a national amateur baseball showcase held each September and hosted by the Blue Jays Baseball Academy. The goal is to provide a showcase opportunity for the best amateur baseball players born in Canada, with draft and college eligibility. It acts to centralize the best Canadian baseball players, with the intention of exposing them to as many MLB scouts and college recruiters as possible.

Showcase tryouts are held across Canada from May 14 to July 25 including coming up May 15 in Langley and May 16 at UBC! 

These tryouts help determine the players selected to participate at the showcase. While it is not mandatory that players attend a tryout in order to be selected to a roster, it is the best way to ensure players are fairly and accurately evaluated.

FOR MORE INFO AND TO REGISTER, CLICK HERE: https://tinyurl.com/37cz5bec

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