After nine years in operation the Kelowna Jays Canada Day Baseball Blast cash tournament is as strong as ever.
And so are the Seattle Studs.
The Studs, one of the top senior men’s baseball teams in the Pacific Northwest, won their third straight Baseball Blast in Kelowna, taking home $7,000 for its efforts after a 3-1 win over Nanaimo in the tournament finale on Monday.
“It’s the quality of their players and the age of their players that makes them so tough,” said tournament organizer Bill Bayne. “The majority of their players are 23 or 24 years old. They are all ex-college players and they have a couple of ex-pro players. They are very good. They are very deep defensively and offensively and they have good pitching.”
And that’s a pretty good recipe for success. The Studs mowed down the competition at the Canada Day Blast, including a 7-0 quarter-final win over the host West Coast Authentic Jays. The Jays had gone through the round robin at a perfect 4-and-0 after two wins each over Trail and Calgary but were no match for the veteran Studs club.
Thurston Country finished third in the event while the Kamloops Sun Devils captured a piece of the prize money with a fourth place finish. In their first appearance in the Baseball Blast, the Okanagan Athletics Premier Baseball League team was 1-and-2, gaining valuable experience against a tough field of teams.
Fifteen teams in all came to Kelowna for the five day tournament, held at Elks Stadium and Boucherie Field. Bayne says attendance was down this year, likely due to the weather and the busy Canada Day weekend in Kelowna. But he says the tournament continues to attract very good baseball teams and brings a lot of people into Kelowna for extended stays.
Most importantly it’s a showcase for high level baseball.
“The purpose of the tournament is to bring top teams together to all get better and bring better calibre baseball to Kelowna,” he said. “People might not realize what the calibre of baseball is but it’s very high.”
As for the WCA Jays, they are continuing a busy schedule over the next three weeks. This weekend they are off to Everett for a double-header on Saturday before playing two games in Langley on Sunday as part of the team’s Pacific International League schedule. July 12 to 15 the Jays will take part in the high profile Kamloops International Baseball Tournament before hosting the B.C. Junior Baseball Championships at Elks Stadium from July 20 to 22.