The North Island Royals U15 AA team capped its season with a bronze medal win at the 2017 BC Baseball Provincial Championships.
It definitely was one of the highlights of the Royals’ season that saw them finish with a 21-3 regular season record and two tournament championship wins.
The Royals, made up of players from Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Port Alberni, the Comox Valley and Campbell River, posted a 3-3 record at the provincials that was held in Victoria. They beat the Gordon Head Heat 5-3 in the bronze medal game to end up as the third-best team in the province.
The game for third and fourth place featured exciting home runs and defensive gems. It was an action-packed contest that coach Hugh Gurney said overshadowed the one-sided gold medal game that was playing at another diamond.
The Royals grabbed the lead and never relinquished it. The Heat rallied in the sixth inning with two home runs to cut the gap to just a run. In the top of the seventh, the Royals got some insurance when Jayden Smith nailed a two-run homer. Smith, who came in to relieve starter Nathan Underhill, cooled down the Heat in the bottom of the seventh to earn the save and gave Royals the bronze.
In reaching the playoff round, the Royals had to overcome some stiff opposition, scoring two back-to-back wins against the Cowichan Mustangs, 6-1, and the Vancouver Minor Expos, 9-8. But in the battle for top position in Pool A, the Royals faced the number one-seeded Lower Mainland team, the Burnaby Braves, and ended up at the bottom of a 10-9 scoreline. They then took on Ridge Meadows in their final pool game and ended up falling by a lopsided score of 17-4.
The Royals finished in a three-way tie with Ridge Meadows and Cowichan. But having allowed the lowest number of runs scored against them, it was the Royals who advanced to the semifinals to take on Ladner.
Gurney said unfortunately the local boys came up against a pitcher who was on his game, and shut down the Royals at the plate. The game ended in a 7-0 loss, placing them into the bronze-medal contest.
The Royals and coaching staff would like to thank their supporters and parents for all their work and efforts for the team this year.