Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart – The Victoria Eagles High Performance Baseball Program celebrated a successful 2014 campaign on Tuesday night by handing out their year-end awards to players on their Bantam AAA, Midget AAA, Junior Premier and Premier Eagles teams at an awards dinner held at Lambrick Park Church in Gordon Head.
Eagles GM Gautam Srivastava speaking at the Eagles Award Ceremony Tuesday night (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Eagles High Performance Chair Martin Winstanley kicked the night off by thanking and acknowledging the multitude of behind the scenes parent and non-parent volunteers that are needed to make an organization like the Eagles run smoothly and congratulated the teams on their success so far this season.
Eagles High Performance Chair Martin Winstanley (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Greater Victoria Baseball Association President Fraser Campbell also echoed those sentiments and left the players with a challenge for the future, "that someday, maybe tomorrow, maybe when you're married and have your own kids, that you come back and give back to the association, be it as a coach, or getting involved with the executive. That is what keeps organizations like this growing and that is what keeps organizations like this great."
GVBA President Fraser Campbell – "Come back and give back to the association…" (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Finally, capping off the keynote addresses, Eagles GM and Bantam AAA Black Eagles head coach Gautam Srivastava provided the crowd of almost 250 players, coaches and parents, with a brief overview of how the Eagles came into existence – originally with a quickly vetoed name of the Victoria "Armada" – and on how gratifying it has been for him to be involved in building an organization from the ground up and on how great it has been to see the Premier team go from a humble beginning in 2010 (a 10-34 record), to becoming the BCPBL Champions in 2013, something he accredits to the player development and commitment that has happened at all levels in the organization.
Eagles GM Gautam Srivastava offered his thanks to everyone involved in the success of the Eagles program (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
On the award side, Sam Stevenson would take home the Most Inspirational Player Award for the Premier Eagles, perhaps what might be considered the top award of the evening. Stevenson missed pretty much all but one game of the 2013 season with a knee injury, but came back this year to be a team leader on defence (catching and playing third) and finishing third on the team in batting (.300) and first in home runs, including a 3-run shot on Tuesday afternoon that gave the Eagles a 3-2 win over North Shore in their final game of the season.
Premier Eagles Sam Stevenson (left) receives Most Inspirational Player Award from Head Coach Anthony Pluta (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Another notable for the Premiers was Ethan Skuija who was named the team's Top Pitcher. Skuija put together an amazing season on the mound amassing a 4-3 record in 10 starts and compiling an ERA of .84 over his 58.1 innings of work, second only to the Mariners Colton Wood. He finished in the top 10 in the league in strikeouts (64) and had a WHIP (Walks plus hits per innings pitched) of just .67, tops in the league. Skuija was also named to the BC U17 team that will compete for the Canada Cup in Saskatoon in early August.
Premier Eagles Ethan Skuija (left) receives Best Pitcher Award from Head Coach Anthony Pluta (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Alex Hendra-Brown was named the Top Hitter for the Premier team, leading the team in average (.309), hits (38), doubles (14) and RBIs (25), while Tyson Abbott (Most Improved Player) and Zane Takhar (Best Defensive Player) also took home awards.
Premier Eagles Alex Hendra-Brown (left) receives Best Hitter Award from Head Coach Anthony Pluta (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Midget AAA Selects awards went to Evan Smith (Best Pitcher), Naoki Shiratori (Best Hitter), Stephen Wade (Best Defensive Player), Callum Afcouliotis (Most Improved Player) and Austen Wild (Most Inspirational Player).
The Selects and Head Coach Marty Hall, in one of the most touching moments of the evening, also acknowledged their "honorary player" "Yu," a Japanese boy who was constantly hanging around the park and watching the team practice, before finally being invited by the team to come and practice and play with them for the rest of the year.
Victoria Selects Honorary Player "Yu" (at podium) received ackowledgement from Selects Head coach Marty Hall (right), Dustin Robirtis (left) and Kyle Horne (second from left) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Junior Premier Head Coach Bob Mabee handed out the awards for the Junior squad which went to Jacob Potter (Best Pitcher), Jordan Strandlund (Best Hitter), Ethan Tremblay (Best Defensive Player), Brock Duncan (Most Inspirational Player) and Fynn Chester (Most Improved Player).
Junior Premier Eagles Fynn Chester (right) receives Most Improved Player Award from Head Coach Bob Mabee (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
For the Bantam AAA Black Eagles awards went to Liam Kruse (Best Pitcher), Nate Postle (Best Hitter), Parker Swinton (Best Defensive Player), Jayden Wakeham (Most Inspirational Player) and Brody Stark (Most Improved Player).
Bantam AAA Eagles Jayden Wakeham (centre) receives Most Inspirational Player Award from Head Coach Gautam Srivastava (left) and Assistant Coach Jordan Will (right) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Finally, Bantam AAA Red Eagles awards went to Spencer Kearley (Best Pitcher), Andrew Weir (Best Hitter), Cole Mayhew (Best Defensive Player), Trey Sjerven (Most Improved Player) and Graham Dube (Most Inspirational Player).
While the regular season is now over for all the Eagles teams, the playoffs and Provincials beckon. The Bantam AAA Black Eagles have had a great season, winning their Division and will be attending Provincials in Kelowna, while the Bantam Red Eagles have earned an opportunity to play in a wild-card tournament to also secure a spot. The Junior Premiers are finished, however the Midget AAA Selects are hosting the Midget AAA Provncials at Lambrick July 31 to August 3rd and the Premier Eagles will begin their first round of playoffs against the Victoria Mariners this Saturday at Henderson Park.
More photos from the banquet and of all the 2014 Eagles award winners can be found on the Eagles Facebook page HERE