By Steve Petersen
The Langley Blaze won the final of their annual Langley Blaze Invitational Tournament by the slimmest of margins.
The Blaze, coached by Jamie Bodaly, edged the North Shore Twins 4-3 McLeod Athletic Park in the final. This annual event is attended by the top PBL programs in British Columbia plus the Okotoks Dawgs Academy from Okotoks Alta., and a team all the way from Ontario, the Brampton Royals, who are attending the Baseball Canada midget nationals in London Ont. later in August.
Danny Berg was excellent on the mound in pitching 6 2/3 scoreless and allowing zero runs while striking out a pair. He helped his own cause hitting a triple and knocking in two runs. Gus Wilson was 2-for-3 while Berg had three RBIs.
The championship had the top two PBL teams, the Blaze (19-8 record, .704) and North Shore (17-4, .810). Over the course of the 13-team LBI, the Blaze finished with a 5-1 record.
Facing the Whalley Chiefs in Game 1, Michael Stovman was dominant on the mound in pitching a complete-game 4-1 win. He fanned 10 and allowed three hits and an unearned run. Rhys Cratty and Wilson each had two hits for the Blaze.
The Blaze then beat the Mid-Island Pirates 12-4 to move to 2-0. Mac Berry, Jayden Knight tripled and singled, Stovman had two hits and Brandon Nicoll doubled
Kyle Gee was impressive on the mound with another complete game, needing only 81 pitches to blank the Brampton Royals 4-0. Gee allowed one hit -- a single to Matt Pigat to start the game and that was that -- walked two and fanned four. Offensively the Blaze were led by Berg and Stovman with two hits apiece.
Next, the Okotoks Dawgs Red walked off the Blaze with a 6-5 win. Blaze starter Colby Ring pitched four innings allowing one run while striking out five. Berg was 3-for-4 to pace the Blaze.
Championship Sunday saw Kyle Prather on the mound in the semi-Final against Brampton pitching Langley to an 8-0 victory. Prather struck out eight in six innings allowing three hits. Berg was 4-for-4.
Langley pitching over the course of weekend was dominant with a team ERA of 1.10 while Berg was named tournament MVP, leading hitters with a .625 avg over six games, going 10-for-16 with nine singles and 1 triple.
North Shore made it to the final with wins over Okotoks Dawgs Red 9-1, the White Rock Tritons 2-1, the Victoria Eagles 10-2, an 11-3 loss to Whalley in round-robin play and then a 5-3 win over the Abbotsford Cardinals in the semi-final.
Abbotsford beat the North Delta Blue Jays 8-2, the Coquitlam Reds 10-0, the Victoria Mariners 8-0 and dropped a 10-2 decision to the Okotoks Dawgs Black.
Brampton edged the Whalley Chiefs 2-1, lost to Langley 4-0, beat the Mid Island Pirates 7-4 and beat the Victoria Eagles 8-1.
And as Max Jackson used to say ... in other games ... The Mariners edged Okotoks Dawgs Black 1-0, Coquitlam snuck by Dawgs Black 1-0, White Rock beat Dawgs Red 8-1, Dawgs Black thumped North Delta 8-1, Mid Island dropped Whalley 6-1, Dawgs Red beat the Eagles 8-6, the Mariners beat North Delta 7-2, White Rock edged 6-4, North Delta sneaked past Coquitlam 1-0, Mid Island doubled up on White Rock 6-3 and the Mariners triumphed over Coquitlam Reds 6-4.
Pool A RA/RF Pool B RA/RF Pool C (Abbotsford) RA/RF
Langley Blaze (3-1) 11/21 Okotoks Dawgs Red (1-3) 28/16 Abbotsford Cardinals (3-0) 2/26
Whalley Chiefs (1-3) 15/15 North Shore Twins (3-1) 14/25 Victoria Mariners (2-1) 10/8
Mid Island Pirates (2-2) 23/20 White Rock Tritons (2-2) 13/22 Okotoks Dawgs Black (2-2) 13/10
Brampton Royals (3-1) 10/17 Victoria Eagles (0-4) 32/12 Coquitlam Reds (1-3) 17/5
North Delta Blue Jays (1-3) 23/6