Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN) – The 2014 minor baseball season officially got underway Friday, as the Victoria Selects entertained the visiting Calgary Blues in Midget AAA doubleheader action at Lambrick Park in Saanich.
While the Selects would come out on the short-end of 15-5 and 10-1 losses to a hard-hitting Blue's team, the day was more about the players getting their feet wet with their first action of the season, and for Manager Marty Hall to see many of the players in a game situation for the first time.
Victoria Selects Manager Marty Hall addresses his team prior to games against Calgary on Friday afternoon (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The Selects are one of three midget-aged teams in the Greater Victoria Baseball Association's (GVBA) High Performance Division, behind the Premier and Junior Premier Eagles. Comprised of kids from all across Victoria, the team's main focus is on development and for preparing players to play at the Jr. Premier or Premier level in subsequent seasons. The team also provides a home for those kids who wish to play baseball at a level above that found in their home park's house leagues.
Victoria's Noah Brassert was on the hill to throw the first pitch of the 2014 minor baseball season (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
In that regard, Manager Hall and his assistant coaches Kyle Horne, Murray Smith and Dustin Robirtis, know they will have their work cut out for them to teach these kids the finer points of the game. "We have some kids that have played at the higher levels before and a number that have not," said Hall. "Some of them know the finer points of the game, but our job will be a bit of a feeling out process to see who can play where and how well, but we will also be teaching these boys things like baseball etiquette and what's expected of them both on and off the field."
Calgary's DJ Leiding would get the start for the blues in Game 1 and would have a strong early season outing throwing into the 5th inning of the Blue's 15-5 win (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Hall also admits it will be a bit of a learning curve for himself as well. "It's been awhile since I worked at the Managerial level for a team, so to come back in to it will be fun, figuring out our strengths and weaknesses, teaching the boys the little things about the game…I'm looking forward to it."
Victoria's Alex Hendra-Brown would slide safely into second, ahead of the throw to Calgary second baseman Todd Layton (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
As to the games Friday, suffice it to say that Hall probably learned quite a bit about what his team can bring to the diamond day-in and day-out and what they need to work on quickly to bring their compete level to where it needs to be. The Selects struggled at the plate for some stretches Friday and there were a number of fielding errors and wild pitches that aided the Blue's cause, all of which Hall took in stride and all which he and his coaches know will improve as the season progresses.
Calgary shortstop Justin Johnston would have Victoria's Tanner Gilbert dead to rights on this stolen base attempt (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
In the first game Friday, Noah Brassett had the honour of delivering the first pitch of the 2014 season and while he gave up a run in the top of the first, the Selects would respond for a pair in the bottom of the inning – thanks to hits by Tomoki Tashima, Evan Smith and Alex Hendra-Brown – and Brassert would hold a 2-1 lead after two innings of play.
Calgary right fielder Tanner Jesson would make a nice running catch on this play in Game 1 Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Calgary would come alive in the third however and rough up both Brassert and reliever Viktor Coffey for four runs, thanks in part to hits from Tyler Doyle, Duncan Elgert and Tanner Jesson. The Selects would get a run back off Calgary starter DJ Leiding in the bottom of the inning when Cade King would reach and score on a single by Christian Hauff and would trail 5-3 after three.
Victoria pitcher Steven Wade would strike out the side in the 6th inning of Game 1 Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The Blues would keep their hit parade rolling in the fourth inning, scoring another three runs on the strength of hits from Todd Layton, Jeff Derks, and Justin Johnston, and would score two more in the fifth – this time off Selects pitcher Steven Wade – to hold a commanding 10-4 lead after five innings of play.
Calgary's Brad Karas grimaces as he is tagged out at the plate by Victoria's Steven Wade following a run down between home and third (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Wade would settle down in the 6th and strike out the side, but the Blues would come alive again in the top of the 7th to score another five runs and put the game well out of reach. The Selects would add another in the bottom of the inning, but it would be too little too late and the Blues closed out the easy 15-5 victory.
Victoria second baseman Tanner Gilbert would manage to make this catch and put the tag on Calgary baserunner Jacob Cuch early in Game 2 Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
In the second game of the doubleheader, Tyrus Sleightholme took the mound for the Selects, while Kyle Dejardins went to the hill for the Blues. Both pitchers were effective early and the game was scoreless through two innings.
The Selects would send 9 different pitchers to the mound Friday including Evan Smith (left) and Tomoki Tashima (right)(Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Helping Sleightholme out defensively in a big way, the Selects turned a bases-loaded triple play in the top of the first to keep the Blues off the board. After back to back singles by Tyler Doyle and Cole McPhee, Sleightholme hit Justin Johnston to load the bases. Tanner Jesson then came up and ripped a line-drive directly into the glove of Selects third baseman Tomoki Tashima. He quickly stepped on third to double off Doyle, then threw to second to get McPhee and complete the baseball rarity. Definitely a highlight of the afternoon.
Victoria second baseman Tanner Gilbert is in perfect position for this ground ball in Game 2 Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Calgary baserunner Brent Biever slides safely back to first ahead of the throw to the Select's Vicktor Coffey (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The Selects probably should have stopped there, as the Blues made them pay the next two innings, scoring six runs in the 3rd and another four runs in the 4th to put the game out of reach.
The Selects would stave off the mercy rule by scoring a run in the bottom of the 5th to trail 10-1 and while they would keep the Blues off the board the rest of the way, the offence could not generate any runs and the game went the distance with the Blues prevailing by that 10-1 score.
Calgary left fielder Tannr Jesson makes another fine running catch during Game 2 Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The Blues continue their west coast visit on Saturday as they will take on the defending PBL Champion Victoria Eagles who will see their first action of the 2014 season. First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 12 Noon at Lambrick Park. Bring your umbrellas and blankets as the forecast is for a rainy, cool afternoon.
More Images from this game will be available on Christian J. Stewart's web site at http://christianjstewart.zenfolio.com/p104403741