B.C.’s Best back for crack at title

Springwood Park will be baseball central once again this weekend as nine teams take to the fields for the annual B.C.’s Best Tournament.

The Whalley Chiefs’ six-foot-six-inch pitcher/outfielder Adam Loewen

The Whalley Chiefs’ six-foot-six-inch pitcher/outfielder Adam Loewen

Batters up!

A reminder to local fans of the grand old game, that Springwood Park will be baseball central once again this weekend as nine teams take to the fields for the 19th annual B.C.’s Best Tournament.

This year’s tournament will feature three pools of three teams — the host Quality Foods Royals and seven other BCPBL squads as well as the Okotoks Dawgs from Alberta.

A big tourney to be sure which draws MLB and college scouts, there are currently 10 Major League players who have participated in the B.C.’s Best including the Royals’ own Taylor Green now a third baseman with the Milwaukee Brewers.

In years past, the tournament has also hosted squads from the U.S. and France, and in a special ceremony held as part of the 2008 tournament, the Royals’ home field up at Springwood Park was officially renamed Inouye-Wallace Field in recognition of retired local principal Clyde Inouye and the team’s long-serving skipper Dave Wallace, who have been part of the BCPBL (considered one of the best high school aged leagues on the planet), since it first surfaced as the Island Premier Baseball League back in 1996.

The home town Royals won the tournament for the first time in 2011, and the Abbotsford Cardinals, who won it last year,  will not be in the mix.

There is a full concession on site, and the local Shriners will be back serving up their scrumptious pancake breakfast on Sunday from 7:30-11 a.m.

GAMES ON:

The tournament opens Friday at 12:30 p.m. with two games — the Nanaimo Pirates play the Victoria Mariners at Inouye-Wallace Field, and at 1 p.m. Okatoks takes on the North Delta Blue Jays at Springwood Park’s Rotary Field.

There are two games slated for 3 p.m., and the hometown Royals open against the Dawgs at 6 p.m. at Inouye-Wallace Field while Vancouver plays Whalley at Rotary.

The Royals are back at it at 10 a.m. Saturday against the Blue Jays, with the remaining schedule to be determined after that, with games slated for 12:30, 3, and 5:30 p.m.

Games go Sunday at 10 a.m., 12:30 and 3 p.m., and on Monday there are two semifinal games at 10 a.m., with the championship game slated for 12:30 p.m. and the third/fourth game to start at noon.

B.C.’S BEST facts and highlights:

Estimated number of players who have participated: 1,800

Estimated contribution to the Parksville economy over 17 years: over $2.5 million

Estimated number of participants who have gone on to play baseball at college, university or professionally: 1,000

Largest crowd attracted was in a 2002 game featuring soon to be first round draft pick (fourth overall) Adam Loewen of the Whalley (Fraser Valley) Chiefs.

Jeff Francis (2002 first round draft pick, ninth overall) threw a perfect game in the 1999 tournament.