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May 25, 2024 May 25, 2024

VAB wins PBA tournament 

Posted on May 2, 2024 by Vauxhall Advance
Advance Photo by Trevor Busch. UP AND AWAY: A VAB infielder applies a mid-air tag following an opposing slide at second base during a doubleheader versus Diamond Academy last month.

By Cole Parkinson
Vauxhall Advance

It was a weekend to remember for the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball Jets as they were back on the field for the annual Prairie Baseball’s Prairie Showcase Classic. With another weekend full of games, the team saw plenty of baseball over the weekend, and due to the lack of fields in Lethbridge, the Jets were even able to play a handful of games at home before transitioning to Lethbridge.

First up was Medicine Hat on Thursday night at Jets Stadium. The Jets were able to get off and running with a 10-0 win over the Monarchs to begin their march to the finals. Jimmy Boulanger went five innings with one hit and one walk given up along with nine strikeouts. Luke Wheatley led the way on offence going 3-3 with a grand slam and six RBI. Karsen Haney was 2-3 with a double and two RBI, Ben Simmons had a double, and Eric Reiling and Aaron Fuzesy each had one hit.

With one win in the books, the Jets were back at home on Friday as they welcomed in the Calgary Blues and the Calgary Bucks. The first game saw the offence once again. Take off as they claimed a 12-4 win over the Blues. The team didn’t stop there as they put up another 12 on the Bucks en route to a 12-0 win. Kaden Caldwell went four innings in game one and gave up no runs while Brett Getz went five in game two. Stevyn Andrachick, Callum Thomson, Langdyn Cummins, and Wheatley each had two hits on the day. Simmons, Jacob Austin, Jaxon George, Haney, and Cedric Leblanc each had one.

Thanks to the three wins at home, the Jets found themselves in the semi-final on Saturday where they faced off against the Diamond Academy. In another big offensive performance, the Jets took a 15-5 win and advanced to the finals. Patrick MacInnis collected the win on the mound with four innings and seven innings while Rory MacDonald pitched the final inning with two strikeouts. Wheatley continued to hit the ball well as he went 2-4 with two doubles and three RBI, Reiling went 3-4 with a triple, Haney was 2-3 with a double, triple, and two RBI, Easton Kitura was 1-2 with a double and an RBI, Simmons was 1-2 with an RBI, and Cummins and George chipped in with a hit each.

In the finals against PBA, the Jets found themselves in an early 3-1 deficit before rallying back with a 15-5 victory. Jack Baxter took the mound and went 4 and one-third innings while Jacob Burgess went 1 two-third innings of scoreless ball. Every hitter in the lineup continued with a hit as Haney went 3-3 with an RBI, Thomson was 2-2 with two doubles, and Wheatley was 3-4 with a triple.

“We ended up going undefeated in the tournament and you know, I thought, for the most part, we played pretty solid baseball. We were fortunate to have the first three games at home at Jets Stadium and we played pretty well in those,” stated Les McTavish, head coach of the Jets. “You know, if I had to take kind of an overall synopsis of things, we pitched fairly well. And a lot of our games were closer early, and then we blew a little open late in the game. So the scores ended up being lopsided, but they weren’t as lopsided maybe, you know, halfway through the game as one might think, but overall, the kids competed hard. You know, lots of different players contributed throughout the weekend.”

Looking at the final game of the weekend, McTavish liked how his guys battled hard after a tough start.

“We hung in there in the final. We got off to a slow start, made a few errors early, and didn’t play particularly great. You know, kind of hung around, hung around until the middle part of the game. They went to the bullpen, and that’s where we blew it open and we went to the bullpen, and we were really good. So it was good,” continued McTavish.

Things don’t get easier for the Jets this weekend as they head to B.C. for the Best of the West tournament. With plenty of great teams on the schedule, the team is hoping the win at PBA is a big momentum boost heading into the biggest tournament of the year.

“It certainly is (a boost coming out of the PBA tournament). We played pretty well one through five, so, you know, it puts you in a good position going in. But, you know, at the same time, we talk to the players quite often about a short-term memory, whether it’s good or bad, right? And it is always a positive to end a weekend on a positive going into another week,” added McTavish. “But today’s a good bus day and reset and get back on the saddle tomorrow. We have a really challenging schedule so we’ll have a workout out for us for sure.”

Another big factor that will certainly help the Jets heading into the weekend is the fact their lineup one through nine is contributing. Likewise can be said of the pitching staff who have been rock solid over the past several games.

“To me, that’s the sign of a good ball club is when you have some contributions top of the lineup all the way down to the bottom and you’re not relying on, you know, a certain area of the lineup or a certain player,” said McTavish. “Same thing on the pitching staff. I think, you know, you want to pass the baton to the next guy and success breeds success. They did a really good job of that, just passing the baton to the next guy up. So they go out and get after it and keep the train moving, right? Winning and positive things can become contagious, just like, you know, losing and negative things can, and right now we’re in a pretty good spot.”

The Best of the West kicked off on May 1.

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