by Jonathan Hodgson
February 22, 2014 (ISN) – Vancouver Island Baseball Institute (VIBI) is very pleased to congratulate the Big League Experience youth program for bringing home a tournament championship from Las Vegas this past weekend.
Big League Experience Camps led by Marty Lehn, a former Canadian National Team coach (2004 Olympics, 3 World Championships, 3 Olympic Qualifiers, Pan Am Games) who spent 9 years as a Canadian scout for the Milwaukee Brewers, assembled two ’13U’ teams made up of BC players to compete in the ‘Red White and Blue Tournament’ held at Big League Dreams Complex in Las Vegas, Nevada over the USA’s Presidents Day long weekend.
The tournament featured the two BLE teams from north of the border against 22 American based teams, in 2 divisions. The Canadian BLE teams represented themselves extremely well.
VIBI head coach Jordan Blundell was on the coaching staff of ‘BLE 1’, working alongside Marty Lehn, as well as former MLB catcher Bob Didier, owner of 5 World Series rings as a coach with the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees. Six natives of Vancouver Island who played in the tournament were all on coach Blundell’s team.
Blundell’s squad split a pair of games against Nevada based teams on day one, and needing to win both of their games on day two to move on to the playoffs, they did just that, topping one team from Arizona and another out of southern Nevada.
Day three brought the playoff round, and BLE kept on rolling, taking a 7-2 win over a team out of southern California, to advance to the ‘Blue Division’ Championship against the same southern Nevada side they had beaten the day before. A wild game saw BLE come out victorious, 13-9 for the ‘Blue Division’ championship, posting a 5-1 record.
Three players from Nanaimo were on coach Blundell’s team, and all three shone on the championship run.
Drew Hnatyshyn hit .250 at the plate, and was brilliant out of the bullpen, recording 6 strikeouts allowing no earned runs in 3 scoreless innings pitched.
Spencer Walton was the hottest hitter in the tournament, posting a .688 batting average (11-16), and a .761 on-base percentage (16-21).
Aden Richardson hit .600 (9-15) with two doubles and a pair of triples, including a go-ahead bases-clearing triple in the bottom of the sixth inning of the championship game, giving BLE a lead they would never surrender.
‘BLE 2’ led by Cory Eckstein (Chilliwack, BC/ Kansas City Royals scout) played well, finishing with a 2-2 record.
Vancouver Island Baseball Institute would like to congratulate all of the BC players on both teams on a tremendously successful weekend.
Opening Day of the 2014 VIBI season is next Saturday, March 1st, as the team travels to Lynnwood, WA to play Edmonds Community College in a 4-game weekend series.
A pre-season doubleheader against Okanagan College will be played on Thursday, March 13 at Serauxmen Stadium in Nanaimo.
VIBI’s Canadian College Baseball Conference (CCBC) Home Opener is set for 2:00 PM, Thursday, March 29th, as Thompson Rivers University visits Serauxmen Stadium for a 4-game weekend series.
All games will be broadcast live on www.vibaseball.ca, with play-by-play voice Jonathan Hodgson on ‘VIBI Webcasts presented by the Canadian Baseball Network’.