The Kelowna Sun Devils defeated the Cloverdale Spurs Sunday in the BC Baseball midget AAA final. -Image: Warren Henderson/Capital News

Sun Devils claim B.C. title

Kelowna wins provincial 18U AAA baseball championship Sunday on home field

Just three seasons after the program’s inception, the Kelowna Sun Devils are sitting at the apex of B.C. 18U AAA baseball.

On a hot, sunny Sunday afternoon at Edith Gay Park, the host Sun Devils lived up to their name by laying claim to the 2017 provincial championship with a 6-0 victory over the Cloverdale Spurs.

In following up on a stellar regular season when they posted a 30-8 record to finish in first, the Sun Devils met all expectations at provincials with a perfect 6-0 mark.

While a level of skill and talent clearly played key roles in their run to the title, head coach Rob Law said Sun Devils’ players were also rewarded for their grit and determination—characteristics his club displayed right from the season’s first pitch.

“Every day these guys laid it on the line, everyday somebody was getting injured, the way they hustled, getting dirty, getting hit at the plate, they were just non-stop warriors,” said Law. “Everybody every other day stepped up. It was amazing, an amazing run, I still can’t believe it. I’m in awe of these young men.

“I pushed them, I wasn’t easy on them and they were just amazing. I’m so proud of them.”

In Sunday’s final vs Cloverdale, rookie Dreyton Nelmes tossed 5 2/3 innings of shutout ball for the second time in the tournament, while Gavin Barrett sealed the deal getting the last four outs.

Tyson Lamb paced the offense with a pair of hits and an RBI, while Jackson Sowerby added some insurance with a home run in the sixth inning.

The Sun Devils faced their greatest adversity of the weekend in the semifinal on Sunday morning against South Fraser, rallying from behind for a dramatic 8-7 win.

Down 6-1 to the Giants after just three innings, Nathan Ringness-Law came in and pitched four innings of relief to keep the Sun Devils within striking distance. That set the stage for the comeback, which included Jay Taylor’s two-run home run in the sixth inning to tie the game 7-7.

Then when Jackson Sowerby delivered a walk-off single to score James Guidon, the rally was complete and Kelowna was off to the championship game.

Law said it was yet another example of the heart and resolve the Sun Devils have played with all season.

“Doesn’t matter whether we’re down six or down one, we just don’t quit,” Law said. “We told them coming in you’re seeded number one, everybody’s going to be coming after you and you have to play hard.

“You’ve got to do whatever it takes to get the job done. It’s a gritty, tight group of young men.”

As for what winning the B.C. 18U AAA league title means for the Sun Devils, Law said it’s further validation that the program is working.

“It’s speaks volumes to where our program has gone to in three short years, and we’re building with our bantam triple-A program, with the (Central Okanagan Minor Baseball Association) and our executive,” he said. “We’ve got a high performance program and it’s working, it’s showing…it shows the dedication of the coaches, the executive, the parents—it takes everybody.”

As Team B.C., the Sun Devils will now get set to represent the province Aug. 10 to 14 at the Northeast Prospect College Showcase in Kingston, Rhode Island.

The B.C. champion Sun Devials are:

Noah Ringness-Law, Kurtis Wall, Gavin Barrett, Noah Foufoulas, Jay Taylor, Tyson Lamb, Spencer Klassen, Jackson Sowerby, Jordan Laidlaw, Mat Aschenbrenner, Jaimes Guidon, Nathan Ringness-Law, Matt Fuchs, Dreyton Nelmes, Logan Bligh, Alex Thompson and Carson Moberg.

The coaches are Rob Law, Jeff Bligh and Jeff Thompson.

whenderson@kelownacapnews.com