By Greg Price
Vauxhall Academy of Baseball Jets were the epitome of perseverance in taking home the title of its 11th annual Haven Agencies Tournament at Jets Stadium.
The Jets took full advantage of an under-armed Lethbridge Elks team to put on a hitting clinic in a 17-2 domination that was called after five innings, with the Jets facing plenty of adversity themselves all tournament long.
“The Elks were out of arms a little bit towards the end. The first game in the tournament against them, they threw Bryce Fraser at us who was one of our former players who had a really good year in college at Kansas. They threw a college pitcher against us the first game,” said Les McTavish, head coach of the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball Jets.
In the championship game, the Jets belted out 13 hits to power its 17 RBI.
Offensively, the Jets were led by Liam Vulcano who was 2-for-3 with two RBI. Cooper Jones was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Brett Mercier was 3-for-3 with a three- run line drive home run and four total RBI. Jared Binsfeld was 1-for-3 with an RBI. Ty Penner was 2-for-3 with two RBI.
Dayton Peters was 2-for-3 and Matt Rath rounded out the offence, going 1-for-2 with three RBI.
“We had a balanced attack. We had multiple guys hit and multiple guys have good at bats,” said McTavish.
The pitching was just as dominating for the Jets as two hurlers combined for a five-inning no hitter.
Garrett Hawkins started on the mound, going four innings, allowing two unearned runs with nine strikeouts and two walks. Zach Newman finished things off, going the final inning with two strikeouts to combine for a no hitter.
The Jets were able to reach the lofty skies of the championship despite having troubles finding the necessary pilots to battle the turbulence as the academy was shorthanded throughout the tournament run.
“As the tournament wore on, we were beat up. We had four guys away with Team Canada, we had one player away with Team Manitoba and we had the flu bug going throughout our team,” said McTavish.
“Every day there were different guys out of the lineup with the flu and everything else. It was certainly a challenge, but at the same time, it went really well.”
The opening game McTavish spoke of against the Elks was a 4-3 victory last Thursday at Jets Stadium that had a flare for the dramatic as Binsfeld smacked a walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Adam Macko started on the mound, giving up three runs in the first inning before cruising the rest of the way, allowing three hits, two earned runs, with two walks and seven strikeouts.
Offensively, the Jets had a balanced attack against former Jet Bryce Fraser. Vulcano was 1-for-3.
Binsfeld was 2-for-4 with a single and home run. Peters was 1-for-2 with a double. Ben Erwin was 1-for-3 with an RBI and Rath finished things off, going 2-for-2 with an RBI.
Play continued on Friday for the Jets with an 8-2 victory over Calgary Junior Dinos.
The Jets exploded for six runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to seal the win.
Garrick Nicholson started on the mound, going five innings, allowing three hits, two runs and five walks and four strikeouts. Newman threw a clean inning, allowing one hit while fanning three. Hawkins finished things off, going one inning with two strikeouts.
Vulcano was 2-for-4 with an RBI at the plate. Owen Harms was 1-for-3 with an RBI. Mercier was 1-for-2. Binsfeld was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Jones was 2-for-3 with two RBI. Peters was 1-for-3 with a two-run home run. Penner and Rath were both 1-for-3.
Saturday’s slate featured a split, as the Jets did its impression of Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde in its play.
Jets were grounded by Medicine Hat Monarchs 9-8 before bouncing back with an 8-0 blanking of Great Falls Chargers.
Game 1 saw Connor Green get the start, going 4 2/3 innings, allowing six hits, and six earned runs. He issued five free passes and fanned five hitters. Penner finished things off, going 2 1/3 innings, allowing two hits with three strikeouts.
Offensively, the Jets were led by Vulcano going 2-for-4. Jones was 3-for-5 with an RBI. Mercier was 1-for-4 with an RBI. Binsfeld was 2-for-5 with an RBI.
Kaiden Cardoso was 1-for-4 with an RBI.
Game 2 on Saturday saw Erwin dominate on the mound, going seven innings, allowing one hit and striking out 11.
Offensively, the Jets had 12 hits from six different players. Vulcano was 3-for-4 with two doubles. Jones was 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
Mercier was 1-for-2 with a double and an RBI. Binsfeld was 3-for-4 with a double and three RBI. Penner was 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Matt Gough rounded out the offence, going 1-for-2 with an RBI.
“The strength of our program over the years has been we’ve faced adversity and worked through it. We only carry 22 and that sounds like a lot during certain times, but it’s not a lot when we get situations like this with players away and players battling illness or injury,” said McTavish.
“A lot of the accolades go to the kids where they battled hard and they played their best game when they had to. We are very thankful for everyone coming out and watching. It was our last home games of the season and we are thankful for everyone who came out to support us and who helped sponsor the tournament.”