Ten seasons after the program’s first pitch, the Okanagan College Coyotes are celebrating their first ever league title.
Geoff White’s Coyotes roared back from a slow start at the season-ending tournament in Kamloops to claim the Canadian College Baseball Conference championship.
After starting the six-team tourney with a 1-2 record, OC reeled off five consecutive must-wins, sealing the deal on Sunday afternoon with a dramatic 10-9 victory over the Fraser Valley Cascades in the final.
2018 CCBC CHAMPIONS! These guys battle their butts off having to win a tie breaker, semi and final all within 24hrs. Proud of this group! pic.twitter.com/KbJvdfZWi8
— Coach Jared Johnson (@JacquesStraap) May 14, 2018
Trailing by one, the Cascades loaded up the bases in the bottom of the ninth inning. But pitcher Wyatt Hummel induced the final UFV batter into a pop up for the final out and the celebration was on.
“It was a wild game, back and forth, it had a bit of everything,” said White, the Coyotes’ head coach and program director.
“There were some really nice defensive plays, doubles, triples, home runs, everything you could possibly see in a great final game. It was nice to come out on the winning end, a great reward for all the hard work everybody put in all season.”
The tournament was a true test of both mental and physical resolve for the Coyotes. OC played eight games in four days, including a Saturday-night tiebreaker, the semifinal and championship final all in a span of just 18 hours.
Conversely, the Cascades went a perfect 5-0 in the round robin and, and with a bye to the final, were well-rested on Sunday.
The gruelling schedule was particularly taxing on the Coyotes’ pitching staff but White was proud of the way his players responded and persevered.
“It was a real struggle at the beginning, we didn’t pitch very well,” said White, who is assisted by Jared Johnson. “But after the third game, the guys really buckled down and did the job. It was a tough grind, we had our backs against the wall the last two days, but the whole team just battled all weekend.”
White, who has been with the Coyotes since Day 1, was especially happy for the team’s six graduating players—Jared Dulaba, Brandon Graham, Zan Yandeau, Brandon Becking, Jared Frew and Cole Parusinni—who mark their departure from the program with a CCBC title.
“This group of seniors has been here for half the lifespan of the program,” said White. “It was nice to see them go out with their degrees and certificates and win a championship at the same time.”
As for marking the Coyotes’ 10th anniversary with a conference crown, White can’t conceive of a better reward.
“The program has come a long way from where we were at in the beginning,” said White, whose team had its best ever regular season finish at 20-8. “We’ve been close before, we’ve had some good teams in the past, so it’s nice to see these guys finish it off they way they wanted. A lot of hard work has gone into this. It was a sweet way to close it out.”
The Coyotes were well represented on the CCBC all-conference team.
Davis Todosichuk, Noah Wood-Jolivet and Trevor Brigden were named to the first squad, while Erick Junnola, Chris Wyslobocki and Trevor Mlait made the second team.
Individual awards were handed out to Brandon Graham as the league leader in home runs (5), Jared Frew who compiled the most RBIs, and Trevor Brigden who won CCBC Pitcher of the Year.
The Coyotes also won team awards for best ERA (.380) and most home runs.
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