Men’s baseball sets a new standard for future squads
By Eric Wilkins, Sports Editor
It’s the end of another season for the men’s baseball team. While there was no hardware at the end of it all, it was the finest season in Douglas College history—something the Royals are well-aware of. The end for the squad this year came agonizingly close to the NWAACC Championships. After qualifying for the North Regionals, the Royals knew they had some work to do, and they just about pulled it off.
The first big game saw the team face off against Bellevue. Although the Royals started well, scoring a run in each of the first two innings, Bellevue shut the door from then on. A pair of runs at the bottom of the second tied it up, and then a further two put Douglas down 4-2. A final run in the eighth rounded out the scoring and Bellevue won 5-2.
Now in do-or-die mode, the Royals were up against Skagit Valley. Despite a decent start, a strong showing from the Skagit offence in the fourth and fifth innings meant that Douglas was down 5-2 heading into the sixth—and then the Royals showed them how to really play ball. A four-run inning put the Royals temporarily on top until Skagit tied it up at the top of the seventh. In nail-biting fashion, the game stayed that way into extra innings. Still knotted at seven, the Royals entered the bottom of the 11th inning hoping to end the game then and there. After two runners got on base, courtesy of a walk and being hit by a pitch, Jared Frew delivered just inside the first base foul-line for the walk-off hit. The crew from Douglas was still alive.
The next game decided who would be heading to the NWAACC Championship as the North representative, and the opponent was once again Bellevue. Douglas held in for most of the game, only being down 1-0 until the sixth inning, but they just couldn’t get their offence going, ultimately losing 5-0 to Bellevue’s All-NWAACC Second Team pitcher, Nick Kiel.
Colby Rossi summed up the team’s experience at Regionals: “We faced some tough pitching, which was to be expected in the playoffs, and didn’t exactly get the outcome that we would have liked. As for execution, we weren’t terrible, but we definitely were not up to the standard that is necessary to be successful in playoff competition. We uncharacteristically made too many mistakes on defence, both mentally and physically, that cost us some runs at the end of the day.”
But while it’s easy to dwell on the squad not making the championships, it’s impossible to ignore the accomplishments of both the team and the individuals on it. The Royals set a school record with 15 wins, and their third place finish in the North Division was also tops for the college. The squad fought hard to get where they were, and, as evidenced by their 1-6 start in a preseason tournament in Arizona, they made great strides.
Rossi noted, “We had an incredible season thanks in part to the ‘completeness’ of our team; we were solid in all aspects of our game and that showed through our record. It was an honour to be a part of this year’s team, not just by having a lot of success on the baseball field, but also by witnessing how our players gelled together so closely and so quickly.”
To go with the team success was a slew of individual honours. Making the First Team North Region All-Star squad were Tyler Yorko, Jackson Temple, and Matt Trimble. On the Second Team for the North Region were Frew, Tanner Robertson, Shawn Andersen, Jeff Bouchard, and Brayden Munro. Three North Region Gold Glove selections also went to Jordan Kornberger, Munro, and Robertson. Getting in on the act was coach Cavanagh Whitely, who finished the year with 56 total wins in his coaching career at Douglas College to shatter the previous record of 49.
With the season officially over, Whitely rounded all the bases for a final quote: “I’m proud of this group and what they were able to accomplish this season. Each player was able to contribute to our success both on and off the field. I’m especially thankful for our graduating group of sophomores. They dedicated themselves to their goals and left everything out there on the field. Their work ethic and leadership will be missed. They set a new level of achievement for the program and I wish them the best wherever their academic and athletic pursuits may take them.”