Rutland Rockies claim bantam AA title at Valley of Champions
They call themselves The Lunch Box Boys.
At the 2013 Valley of Champions in Kelowna, the Rutland Rockies proved true to their moniker.
The Rockies battled, scratched and clawed their way to the tournament's bantam AA title over the weekend at Edith Gay Park, clinching the gold medal with an 8-3 win over Surrey.
In Sunday's final, Kyle Ciurka didn't allow an earned run over five innings while Brandon Ludwig struck out the side in the seventh to secure the victory. Matthew Greer and Liam Hughes sparked the offence with two hits and two RBIs each.
The victory in the final avenged an earlier loss to Surrey in the round robin, the Rockies' only setback in six games during the tourney.
"They really wanted that second game against Surrey in the final as they felt they gave it away in the last game in the round robin," said Rockies coach Rob Law. "All our boys played with heart, intensity and determination. Every player contributed in some way."
Rutland opened the weekend with a 21-4 win over Kamloops as Jacob Holland had three hits and two RBIs.
Game 2 saw Cole Van Every with three hits in an 11-9 win over Cowichan, while Liam Hughes struck out seven.
Greer had three hits and three RBIs as the Rockies then whipped Sherwood Park 19-5.
The fourth game produced their only loss, 9-7 to Surrey.
In the semifinal, Greer had three hits and two RBIs and Ludwig homered as Rutland won 8-7 over Victoria.
"They thought they'd won the World Series," Law said of the win over Victoria. "It just showed the smaller associations can play against the bigger ones."
Law said the Rockies—who are comprised of players from Kelowna, West Kelowna, Rutland and Vernon—showed throughout the weekend they could play whatever brand of ball was necessary to get the job done.
"They played small ball when they had to, they brought out the long ball when they needed it, we had outstanding pitching, and defensively they were great, too," he said. "They're Lunch Box Boys, they said let's go to work, get dirty and get this done."
The Rockies are hoping the same brand of baseball will pay dividends at the B.C. bantam AA baseball championship in two weeks time.
Rutland will play host to the provincial tournament, Aug. 1 to 4 at Edith Gay Park.
The VOC bantam AA champs are: Kyle Ciurka, Noah Ringness-Law, Jacob Groinus, Jacob Holland, Brandon Ludwig, Liam Hughes, Matthew Greer, Keegan Perron, Cole Van Every, Keyshon Jackson, Gavin Barrett, Chase Gaudette, Cam Rasmussen and Kadyn Thomas.
The head coach is Rob Law and the assistants are Dennis Holland and Mark Gaudette.