In a tournament that saw them lose their first game and have to win to have a chance at a gold medal, the Quality Foods Parksville Royals went on a run straight to first place at the Western Canadian Championships in Yorkton, Saskatchewan.
Coming up big in the bottom of the 11th inning, Adam McKillican drove in Nanoose Bay’s Josh Anderson for the game winner, sending the Royals to a gold medal on a walk-off victory.
The NEWS caught up with the team waiting at the Saskatoon airport for reaction from the local players.
“What an exhilarating feeling,” said Errington’s Liam Ballance. “Being in a win or go home situation after losing that first one, it was unreal. We were able to come together, we kept our heads in it and played every game like it was our last.”
Anderson, who was the winning run for the Royals, echoed the sentiments of his teammate as they were awaiting their flight home after having to spend an extra day in Yorkton thanks a rain out in the tournament.
“It was crazy,” Anderson said of the victory. “Losing that first game and then coming all the way back to win the next five games, with the gold medal in the end, it was something that we knew was going to be tough but we were able to make it happen.”
It was a big shift in mentality as the Royals went from the bottom of the B.C. Premier Baseball League to winning the gold medal at the Western Canadian Midget Baseball Championships.
“It was interesting to see the change in attitude,” Anderson said. “For almost no reason at all, we came in extremely confident in ourselves and knew we were going to place well here in Yorkton.”
“To turn around coming in last in the Premier League this year showed a lot of character in this team and I’m proud of the way everyone played and represented our team and province at this tournament,” he said.
For some members of the Royals, it’s the end of the line for them in the Royals pinstripes.
Ballance is one of those players who is on his way out but is very happy to go out with a win in his career as a Royal.
“It’s a little upsetting,” Ballance said. “All the friendships over the years and given that most of the guys on this team are from different areas, we’re all going to be moving on and I’ll probably not see some of these guys again, so it’s surreal.”
“But the great thing about it is that we just left it all out there on the field,” Ballance said. “That last game was a nail biter all the way through and to win it with a walk-off win, it’s just an awesome feeling.”
The Royals will now head into the fall league, where they’ll welcome in the next crop of players coming up through their system, along with the returning players from this season’s gold medal winning team.