With the exception of coming home without a victory, the Kelowna Sun Devils couldn’t have asked for a more memorable way to close out the 2017 baseball season.
The B.C. champs returned this week from Rhode Island where they competed in the Northeast Prospect Select Showcase, an eight-team international tournament.
With the other seven teams being American-based, Kelowna coach Rob Law admits his players were, at first, a little bit “awestruck” by their opponents.
But once they settled in and focused on the task at hand, Law said the Sun Devils performed admirably.
“Those teams are good down there,” Law said of the U.S.-based programs. “They get to pick from thousands of kids, they all eat, breathe and sleep the game, and they’re well-coached.
“Our boys were a little shell shocked the first couple of games, but once they realized they could play with those teams, they were fine and they competed. We didn’t go all that way to roll over and play dead. I liked the way guys got down to playing gritty and hard, like they did all year.”
The Sun Devils—known at the event as Team B.C.—opened up the tourney with a couple of lopsided losses, 7-0 to the Bandits Baseball Club and 15-1 to the Boston Prospects. Despite going 0-5 overall, Kelowna turned in solid efforts in its last three games, falling 5-2 L and M Baseball,—the eventual tournament champs—losing 7-3 to Toppers Baseball, and falling 5-2 to the Bandits Baseball Club.
The club’s outgoing seniors—Noah Ringness-Law, Jay Taylor, Noah Foufoulas, Gavin Barrett and Kurtis Wall—all were given starting assignments in their final game.
“Those kids are going out with some really good memories,” Law said.
For the Sun Devils’ Grade 10 and 11 players returning next season, Rob Law said playing in an elite tournament of such a high calibre was an invaluable experience.
“Our guys learned a lot and realize they have a long way to go,” said Law. “They know they have a lot of work to put in if they want to shot at playing pro ball one day or even getting college opportunities. They should all be better players for it.
“It gave us a great idea where our program needs to go in the coming years.”
Aside from the games, Law said Sun Devils’ players and coaches will have a lifetime of memories to look back on, including their visit to historic Fenway Park in Boston, watching a Pawtucket Red Sox game, and taking a trip to Newport Beach.
Between their B.C. 18U AAA championship win last month at their home park and a trip to Rhode Island wearing Team B.C. colours, Law said the Sun Devils couldn’t have asked for anything more from an unforgettable 2017 season.
“In all my years in baseball, this season definitely stands out above the rest, one I’ll never forget,” Law said. “We may not have won a game down there, but that was the trip of a lifetime. I told the guys, it doesn’t matter what happened on the field (in Rhode Island), because no one can ever take away that provincial championship.
“You’ll have that forever, 25 years from now you’ll be able to point at that banner and show your kids. The B.C. title is etched in stone.”
The Sun Devils will open their fall season on Sept. 7.