15U Western Canadian Champions
Winkler Diamond DogsUpdated Friday August 22, 2014 by Jake Peters.
Front Row (L-R): James Dyck, Carter Rempel, Carter Wall, Bobby Matuszewski, Andrew Lane, Caleb Rempel, Tristan Peters
Back Row (L-R): Jeremy Matuszewski (Head Coach), Donovan Fehr, Braden Dyck, Owen Wiebe, Conner Green, Griffin Dyck, Caleb Unrau, Evan Dueck, Cameron Kirkby (Asst. Coach)
The Winkler Diamond Dogs 15U AA Team came back from Swift Current, SK packing some extra hardware, after winning the Gold Medal at the Western Canadian 15U Championships this past weekend.
Jeremy Matuszewski, the Diamond Dog coach, was obviously pleased with the team’s performance at the tournament. “After going there (Swift Current) as a coach last year in the Peewee (13U) division and finishing third, it was great to come back to the same city in the Bantam (15U) division and bring back the first Western Canadian Baseball Championship Gold medal to Winkler. We had three players who were with me here from last year as well, and for them it is sweet redemption after our disappointment last year.”
The Diamond Dogs played their first game, of four, in the round robin on Friday against the host Swift Current Indians. After a slow start, falling behind 6-2 early, they rallied by scoring ten runs in the final three innings to come back for their first win 11-7, sparked by a hard-hit, double by Donavan Fehr in the 4th inning. After that the bats came alive to drive in runs in key situations. Braden Dyck picked up the win in relief, pitching two innings and only giving up one run. Andrew Lane came to finish the game, facing one batter in the 7th inning and getting him to ground out with two runners on for the Indians.
The next day, Saturday, Winkler played at 9am in a well-played game by both teams, against the team from BC. After the previous evenings high-scoring affair Matuszewski knew that the game against BC would be a key game and probably a low-scoring game. “BC is traditionally the team to beat in these tournaments and we knew this one wouldn’t be any differently, so we knew we would have to play our best game of the season. As it turned out we played what I thought was the best game this group of players has ever played.”
In the first inning, it looked like it was going to be a game with lots of runs as both teams each scored two runs in the inning. However, in the second inning both team’s pitchers took over and proceeded with good old fashioned a pitcher’s duel. Caleb Rempel, a pickup from Altona, over the next six innings struck out nine BC batters while not giving up any runs on three hits, with the defense making several spectacular plays to back up their pitcher. In the fifth inning the Diamond Dogs were able to scratch out two runs, to go ahead 4-2, on a key leadoff single by Tristan Peters who later scored on a 2-RBI double by Carter Rempel. After that it was a defensive gem by Winkler, committing no errors in the game, to shut down the potent BC bats and keep them off the scoreboard for Winkler’s second win.
Having beat BC the Diamond Dogs were in a good position to clinch one of the two spots in Sunday’s Gold Medal game in only their third round-robin game Saturday evening, versus the 1-2 Alberta team. The Diamond Dogs scored one in the first inning and never looked back in a 13-3 drubbing of Alberta in six innings. The team pounded out 16 hits, led by Caleb Rempel who went 4-for-4 with three doubles. Braden Dyck won his second game of the tournament by pitching an efficient four innings for the victory.
Now with a 3-0 record Winkler faced an interesting scenario in their final round-robin game on Sunday, when they faced the other 3-0 team from Weyburn, SK. Both teams had secured a spot in the final, which would follow this now meaningless. Winkler went up 7-0 early but in the end could not hold onto the lead and the team from Saskatchewan scored three runs in the bottom of the 7th inning to win the game dramatically, 8-7.
This set up for an interesting game in the Gold Medal game, with the same two teams participating. “We knew that Weyburn had picked up a hard throwing lefty, the best pitcher at this level in Saskatchewan, and we knew we would be facing him in the final,” Matuszewski said, “But, we knew we also had some of the best pitchers in Manitoba who would be throwing for us in the final. We liked our chances!”
The game lived up to expectations! From the beginning it was a pitcher’s duel, as the Saskatchewan pitcher, Brody Frerichs, struck out the side in the top of the first inning. Caleb Unrau, the Winkler starting pitcher, shutdown the Saskatchewan team in the bottom of the first and the game was on.
Winkler scored the only runs they would need in the second inning after Braden Dyck hit a double down the line and later scored, for their first run, on a delayed steal when the Weyburn catcher tried to throw out Caleb Unrau who was stealing second later in the inning. Unrau then scored the second run when Griffin Dyck rolled a grounder to the second baseman, who was unable to make a play on the ball.
Both pitchers continued to battle until Weyburn cut Winkler’s lead in half when they scored what would be their only run in the fourth inning. Conner Green, a player pickup from Portage, pitched the final two innings to secure the win for the team from Manitoba.
To sum it up Matuszewski said, “In the end it was stellar defense, with only six errors through five games, fantastic pitching, and great at-bats that won Winkler their first Western Canadian Championship. I am proud of each of these players and no one deserves the Gold Medal more than they do.”