For the second year in a row, the Kelowna Jays were the victims of a heartbreaking loss in the B.C. junior baseball final.
On Sunday at Elks Stadium, the Burnaby Bulldogs edged the Jays 5-4 to win the provincial title for the second year in a row.
In 2012, the Bulldogs downed Kelowna in extra innings in the final.
In this year’s championship game, Burnaby jumped out to a 3-0 lead as starter Josh Larsen kept the Jays off the board for six innings.
But in the seventh, Kelowna rallied with four runs off of Bulldogs closer, Carter Sherban.
Cody Pendergast delivered a bases-loaded single to score Frank Kaluzniak and Nolan Handley to make it 3-2.
Kody Smith and Pendergast would later come around to score to give the Jays the lead for the first time.
But in the bottom of the seventh, the Bulldogs answered the call with a rally of their own, as Brandon Bufton and Brendan Gaunt had RBI hits to clinch a 5-4 win and Burnaby’s second straight B.C. junior title.
The Jays were provincial champs in 2010 and 2011.
The tournament MVP was Burnaby catcher Brody Hawkins, while the top pitcher was Kelowna’s Frank Kaluzniak, who tossed a two-hit gem on Saturday night in a must win game, defeating Kamloops 3-2.
The Jays were able to pick up several players from the Okanagan A’s who were eliminated from the PBL playoffs, and they made an outstanding contribution to the Jays’ success. Will Russell and Trevor Lofstrom saw valuable innings on the mound while second baseman James Walker and centre fielder Eric Mauer contributed some key hits and some outstanding defence.
The Bulldogs went 3-1 during the double round-robin including a 10-3 win over the Jays. Kelowna went 2-2 including an 11-7 win over the Bulldogs, while Kamloops was 1-3.
The Bulldogs will be representing B.C. at the 2013 nationals in Dartmouth, N.S. (due to their 2012 championship) and have the option to do the same in 2014. Next up for the Jays are the Okanagan Major Baseball League playoffs this weekend at Elks Stadium. On Friday night, the Vernon Diamondbacks visit the Kelowna Jays at 7 p.m.
On Saturday, Kamloops will face Vernon, and Kelowna will meet Kamloops.
The final will be played Sunday morning.