Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
June 20, 2014, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Lake Cowichan Lakers overcame deficits of 5-0 and 7-5 to cruise to a 12-8 win over the Peninsula Outlaws in the 2014 Greater Victoria Baseball Association (GVBA) Bantam A Championship played Friday night at Lambrick Park in Victoria.
Lake Cowichan closer Nolan Fothergill (87) is hugged by catcher Parker Bergstrom after Fothergill struck out the final batter in the Bantam A Championship Friday evening (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The win gave tiny Lake Cowichan a clean sweep of the hardware in the GVBA Bantam age group, as their Bantam AA team also won their respective title game on Tuesday night. Along with Duncan’s win in the Midget AA final Thursday night, it also marks the first time in GVBA history that three championship trophies have gone to teams north of the Malahat in a single season.
Laker baserunner Daegan Mercer would be a dead duck as Peninsula catcher Ethan Newman would make good with the tag in a key first inning play Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Things did not start out so rosy for the Lakers early on Friday, as after retiring the first two Peninsula batters he faced in the bottom of the first inning, Lake Cowichan starter Parker Bergstrom could not find a way to get a third out, allowing a single to Ty Birrell, an RBI triple to Ethan Newman, a hit batter and a walk and then a 2-RBI double to Nigel Parsons to suddenly find himself trailing 4-0.
Peninsula batter Nigel Parsons watches as his bloop double heads towards left field. The hit would score two runs and help give Peninsula an early 5-0 lead (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Bergstrom would be replaced by Dylan Svensen who would get a strike out to end the inning, but the Outlaws would add another run off Svensen in the bottom of the second, after Sebastian Milne drew a leadoff walk and eventually came in to score on an error by the Lake Cowichan shortstop.
Peninsula pitcher Ty Birrell was solid early, facing just 10 Lake Cowichan batters over the first three innings of the game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The early 5-0 lead was looking good for Peninsula starter Birrell, who had good command of the strike zone and who had faced just one batter over the minimum in the first three innings, allowing a 1st inning triple to Daegan Mercer and a 3rd inning single to Svensen. In both cases, the Outlaws defence came up big, in the first instance cutting Mercer down at the plate when he tried to score on a ground ball, and in the second instance, trapping Svensen in a run down between second and third before tagging him out at third base.
Peninsula second baseman Jack Cairns chases Lake Cowichan baserunner Dylan Svensen toward third during a 3rd inning run-down. Svensen would eventually be tagged out on the play (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
In perhaps the turning point of the game, after Svensen was tagged out on the play at third, he argued with the umpire about the call and was ejected from the game. The ejection turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the Lakers however, as it meant that pitcher Nic Brown had to come into the game to start the bottom of 3rd inning.
Lake Cowichan pitcher Nic Brown was brilliant in relief, allowing 2 earned runs on just one hit, while striking out 9 in his 4 and 1/3 innings of work Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
All Brown did from that point on was toss 4 and 1/3 innings of 1-hit ball at the Outlaws before having to come out of the game, having reached his pitch count limit with one out in the bottom of the 7th.
Brown began his effort by striking out the first three batters he faced in the bottom of the 3rd inning. That seemed to motivate his offence, as the Lakers came out in the 4th and finally got to Birrell, scoring 5 runs to tie the game at 5-5.
Peninsula baserunner Sebastian Milne arrives safe into second on this stolen base attempt, as Lake Cowichan shortstop Parker Bergstrom struggles to find the ball (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Birrell got himself into trouble after issuing back-to-back-walks to Trenton Basleg and Emily Vaughan and then a single to Nelson Wagner to load the bases. After a strikeout and an RBI groundout to Bergstrom, Birrell looked like he might escape with little damage, but then surrendered a 2-RBI single to Nolan Fothergill and a huge, RBI triple to Logan Wiersma to deep centre field to make the score 5-4. Wiersma would then come in to score on a wild pitch before the inning ended with the score knotted at 5-5.
Logan Wiersma had a big night at the plate for the Lakers, with a triple, a single and 2 RBIs (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
After the Outlaws chipped in a pair of runs off Brown in the bottom of the 4th to regain the lead at 7-5, the Lakers offence would strike again in the top of the 5th, this time scoring six runs off Peninsula reliever Austin Price. Price did not help himself, giving up 3 hits – the biggest being a 2 RBI single to Wagner – and issuing 4 walks in the inning, all of which would come in to score.
Logan Wiersma also got things done defensively for Lake Cowichan, here coming up with a great catch in centrefield off the bat of the Outlaws Ty Birrell (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
While Peninsula reliever Nick Cowles was able to come in for Price and generally shut the Lakers down the rest of the way – he did allow another run in the top of the 7th – the real story was Lake Cowichan’s Brown, who despite allowing another run in the 5th, would leave the game in the 7th having struck out nine Peninsula batters in an MVP worthy performance. Brown was also helped by closer Fothergill, who stepped in to take his place in that last inning, striking out the final two batters to end the game and stranding two Peninsula runners in the process.
Ty Birrelll led the Outlaws offensively, notching a pair of hits and scoring twice (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
At the plate the Lakers were led by Wagner and Logan and Luke Wiersma who each had a pair of hits, while Bergstrom and Fothergill each had 3 RBIs. The Lakers also got some great production out of the bottom of their line-up as Basleg and Vaughan combined to reach base five times on walks, scoring each time. For Peninsula, Birrell led the way with a pair of hits and 2 runs scored, while also reaching on a walk.
The 2014 GVBA Bantam A Champion Lake Cowicha Lakers (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)