Langley Blaze Repeat as Senior Men’s Provincial Baseball Champions

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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

August 5, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Langley Blaze would overcome a 4-3 loss in Game 1 and 4-1 and 5-4 deficits in Game 2, to surge to an 8-5 win over the Kamloops Sun Devils and capture the 2013 BC Senior Men’s Provincial Baseball Championship Monday afternoon at Lambrick Park in Victoria.

Playing heroes for Langley were Joe Germaine and Scott Webster whose solo and 2-run home runs respectively in the bottom of the 6th inning helped the Blaze score 4 runs and overcome a 5-4 deficit and put them into the lead for good.

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Langley’s Scott Webster (50) gets ready for high five’s from teammate Bobby Wagner after hitting a Championship clinching 2-run homer Monday afternoon (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The Blaze victory put an end to what certainly would have been the Cinderella story of the tournament, as after the Sun Devils were shut out by Langley 4-0 on Sunday evening, they knew, given the double knockout format of the playoff rounds, they would have to win three straight games on Monday, two of which would be against Langley, to capture the title.

With that in mind, the scrappy Kamloops squad began the day in a 9:00 am game trailing the Burnaby Bulldogs 3-0 heading into the bottom of the 4th inning, but then broke things open off Burnaby starter Jordan Padrinao with an 8-run rally to score all the runs they would need for the win.

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Kamloops third baseman Will Devick makes a nice play against Burnaby in Monday mornng’s semi-final game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

Starting that rally off was Ben Bradford who launched a 2-run home run over the left field fence to get Kamloops on the board. After Padrinao then walked the bases loaded, Kamloops would follow up with a 2-RBI double from Erik Herbranson and, after another walk, a 3-RBI double from Will Devick to jump into a 7-5 lead.

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Bases loaded hits from Erik Herbranson (left) and Will Devick (right) accounted for five of the eight runs Kamloops would score in the 4th inning against Burnaby(Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

They would add another run in that inning which would be all starter Pat Brown would need, as he went the distance, shutting the Bulldogs down the rest of the way to get the win.

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Pat Brown would get the complete game victory for Kamloops in the win over Burnaby (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

With the Bulldogs out of the way and on the ferry back to the mainland, the Sun Devils set their sights on the Blaze and sent pitcher Lee Ingram out to the mound, while the Blaze responded with lefty Shane Kramer.

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Kamloops would send Lee Ingram to the mound for Game 1 of the finals on Monday afternoon (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

Ingram, who was pitching on just two-nights rest after pitching Saturday evening (a complete game 3-hitter against Victoria), would be staked to an early 1-0 lead courtesy of a second inning RBI single from Evan Douglas that would score Adam Halland.

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Kamloops Adam Halland (21) would slide home safely with the first run of the game against Langley in Game 1 (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

That lead would quickly disappear thanks to Langley’s monster hitters, as a 3rd inning 2-run home run from the 6’7″ Webster and a titanic solo shot in the 4th from the 6’3″ Bobby Wagner would put the Blaze into a 3-1 lead.

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Langley’s Bobby Wagner would launch a monstrous 4th inning homerun to give the Blaze a 3-1 lead in Game 1 (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The Sun Devils would chip away at that lead with another run in the top of the 5th to make it 3-2 and then would use some pluck and some luck from mother nature to score a pair in the top of the 7th and move into the 4-3 lead.

In that top of the 7th, with Langley closer Jesse Peters now on the mound, Douglas would lead things off with a single and be moved to second on a sacrifice. Tony Tabor would then come to the plate and loft what appeared to be an easy pop-up to shortstop, but the ball was lost in the sun by shortstop Joe Germaine and fell harmlessly to the ground.

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Kamloops baserunner Will Devick slides safely into second despite the tag from Langley shortstop Jesse Peters V (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

That brought Keenan Chanin to the plate. Chanin had delivered a game winning RBI against Burnaby earlier in the tournament and had knocked in the Sun Devils second run in the 5th inning, so it followed suit that after Douglas and Tabor advanced a base on a wild pitch, he would play the hero again, launching a 2-RBI single into centre field to give Kamloops the 4-3 lead.

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Keenan Chanin heads to first as he watches his 2-RBI single give the Sun Devils a 4-3 lead in the top of the 7th inning in Game 1 Monday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The stunned Blaze would not respond in the bottom of the inning, going quietly, as Ingram retired the side to give the Sun Devils the 4-3 Game 1 win.

With Langley suffering just their first loss of the tournament, and Kamloops only having the one defeat, the teams now had to play a second and deciding final game to determine the champion in the double knockout format.

As teams warmed up for Game 2, the buzz began to circulate around the diamond that Kamloops was once again going to start Ingram on the mound, astonishing to many, given his start on Saturday and the fact that he just threw nearly 100 pitches in the 4-3 win in Game 1.

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Despite throwing nearly 100 pitches in Game 1, Kamloops Lee Ingram was given the ball to also start Game 2 against Langley Monday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

But there he was, and there were his Kamloops teammates making his start that much easier by going out and scoring three 1st innings runs off Langley starter Jesse Peters (who had pitched the final inning in Game 1).

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Langley’s Jesse Peters got the nod for the Blaze to start Game 2 (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The Sun Devil runs came courtesy of a lead-off walk to Chanin, singles by Herbranson and Devick and then a 2-RBI single from Adam Halland. On Halland’s single, he was trapped in a rundown between first and second, which gave time for Devick to also come in and score, as the throw to the plate sailed to the backstop.

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While Kamloop’s Will Devick looks like he is about to be tagged out at the plate by the Blaze’s Clayton Howell, Howell did not have the ball and Devick scored the Sun Devils third run of the game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

In the bottom of the 1st, the decision to go with Ingram for Game 2 appeared to be a shaky one early on, as after retiring the first two batters with ease, Ingram walked the next two batters but was then able to get a pop up to get out of the inning unscathed.

Similarly in the second, Ingram gave up a 1-out solo home run to Langley’s Joe Germaine and a double to Brad Ferraro, before settling down to hold on to the 3-1 lead.

After a scoreless 3rd inning, the Sun Devils would manufacture another run in the top of the 4th. Pat Brown would lead things off with a single and after Douglas would reach on an error, Brown would come home on a RBI double from Cam Strachan, making the score 4-1.

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Kamloops baserunner Cam Strachan slides safely into second with a stolen base under the tag of Langley shortstop Joe Germaine in Game 2 action Monday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The Sun Devils then bid for another run on a fly ball to right field from Blaine Halland, but a perfect throw from Blaze right-fielder Bobby Wagner to catcher Clayton Howell cut down Douglas in his tracks at the plate.

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Kamloops baserunner Evan Douglas would be tagged out by Blaze catcher Clayton Howell on this play at the plate in the 4th inning of Game 2 (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The Sun Devil’s Ingram, continued to work his magic, retiring the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the 4th, but then began to struggle again, giving up back-to-back singles to Germaine and Ferraro and then a walk to Zach Mihic to load the bases. A wild pitch then scored Germaine, while a single by Mike Krische scored Ferraro and the Blaze had battled back to trail 4-3.

The Blaze would even things up in the bottom of the 5th, as Scott Webster would greet the tiring Ingram (who had thrown nearly 170 pitches to that point on the day) with a double.

That would be it for the rubber-armed pitcher, as he was replaced by left-handed reliever Mike Riddle. Riddle’s only job was to face the left-handed hitting Bobby Wagner and he did that perfectly, getting Wagner to fly out before being replaced by reliever Pat Brown.

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Kamloops reliever Mike Riddle would do his job by retiring the only batter he faced in Game 2 Monday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

After Webster advanced to third on a wild pitch, he then came in to score on a sacrifice fly from Howell and the Blaze had battled back to tie the game 4-4.

The Sun Devils would not back down however and they would reclaim the lead in the top of the 6th inning, as Brown would lead things off with a double and come around to score courtesy of a single from Douglas and an RBI single from Halland.

The Sun Devils would have a chance to score more, as they would then load the bases, but Blaze pitcher Peters would then induce a ground ball force out at the plate and then a fly out and the Blaze escaped trailing by just one, 5-4.

That deficit would be made up very quickly in the bottom of the 6th, as leadoff hitter Germaine launched the first pitch he saw from Brown over the left field fence and the game was tied 5-5.

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Kamloop’s centre fielder Erik Herbranson (left) would make the catch of this sinking line drive in Game 2 action Monday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

With the Blaze now pumped up after the Germaine homer, Zach Mihic would follow that up with a one-out double. He would then come in to score two batters later on a clutch two-out double from Graig Merritt and the Blaze had their first lead of the game, 6-5.

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Langley’s Graig Merritt would give the Blaze their first lead of the game with this 6th inning double in Game 2 Monday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

That brought up Webster and he would put the nail in the Sun Devils coffin by launching a two-run blast that put the Blaze up 8-5.

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Langley’s Scott Webster watches his 6th inning 2 run home run sail over the fence in Game 2 Monday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

This time there would be no coming back for the Cinderella Kamloops squad as Langley reliever Shawn Schaefer came in to close out the game, retiring the Sun Devils in order to clinch the game and the Blaze’s second straight BC Provincial Senior Men’s Championship.

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The Langley Blaze begin their celebrations after clinching the 2013 BC Senior Men’s Provincial Baseball Championship (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

Langley head coach Dave Diachuk was proud of his team and their repeat as Provincial Champions. “It feels great to come through with the win. It was a tough grind and Kamloops did a great job, almost taking three games today with an amazing performance. Our boys battled hard and we got our hits and scored our runs when we needed to, especially in that 6th inning today. It’s awesome too repeat, I just love it and now we are looking forward to heading to Windsor this year and Newfoundland in 2014 for Nationals.”

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Victoria Maverick’s Scott Thompson (left) presents the Tournament MVP Award to Langley’s Scott Webster (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

With his impressive three game pitching performance, the Sun Devil’s Ingram was named the Pitcher of the Tournament and when asked about his double start today, he was pretty humble about it, “I don’t do too much just try and throw ball over plate. I just play summer ball so my arm felt OK and I don’t need to pitch again until next year, so it wasn’t a huge issue. And my arm feels fine now, but it was a bit tingly after the game.”

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Victoria Maverick’s Scott Thompson (right) presents the Pitcher of the Tournament Award to Kamloops’ Lee Ingram (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

Kamloops coach Ray Chadwick was proud of his team in defeat and the way in which they almost pulled off the triple-header win today. “Our boys have a lot of character and we have a lot of young guys that want to play hard and know how to play hard and aren’t going to quit until the last out of each game. They showed that today and we played well but just came out a little bit short.”

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Victoria Maverick’s Scott Thompson (left) presents the Championship Trophy to Langley coaches Rocky Pederson (centre) and Dave Diachuk (right) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

As to his pitcher, ironman Ingram, Chadwick was also very appreciative. “Lee was pretty impressive today. We don’t have a lot of bodies so we’ve relied all season on just 13 guys and a lot of innings from our pitchers. After the first game he said he was feeling fine and that he didn’t have to pitch again until next year, so he said ‘Give me the ball,” and when he says that, I know he’s going to go out there and battle, which as you saw he went out and did.”

The Blaze, thanks to their 2012 Provincial win, now travel to Windsor, Ontario for the 2013 Nationals. This 2013 Provincial championship now qualifies the team for the 2014 Nationals which will be held in Newfoundland.

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The 2013 BC Senior Men’s Provincial Baseball Champion Langley Blaze (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

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