This past weekend, The Big League Experience hosted the “Best of the West” Showcase qualifier tournament in Kamloops. The tournament actually started in the lower mainland for a couple games on the Wednesday and then moved to Kamloops for the rest of the action. It was an 11 team format that had everyone playing 2 games and then being seeded #1 through #11 with the top 8 seeds moving into a playoff format to try to grab the last 4 spots for the Spring Showcase tournament. From there it was a true double elimination tournament in which teams “in a nutshell” had to win two before they lost two to qualify.
Here were the rankings after those initial two games: #1 – Abbottsford Cardinals, #2 – Coquitlam Reds, #3 Victoria Mariners, #4 White Rock Tritons, #5 Okanagan A’s, #6 Mid Island Pirates, #7 Absolute Baseball Academy, #8 Badlands Baseball Academy, #9 Whalley Chiefs, #10 Chilliwack Cougars, #11 St. FX Baseball Academy. Although the #9, 10 and 11 seed where eliminated to qualify for the spring tournament, the gap was slim as all three teams played tight games that could have gone either way and change the #1 through #8 seedings.
In the playoff round, the first game match ups where set as follows; #1 vs. #8, #2 vs. #7, #3 vs. #6 and #4 vs. #5. From there teams entered into the winners or losers side of the draw and the elimination and Qualifier games were set up.
#1 Abbotsford knocked off #8 Badlands, #2 Coquitlam knocked off #7Absolute, #3 Victoria knocked off Mid Island and #4 White Rock was defeated by the Okanagan.
In the Winners side it was Victoria knocking off the Okanagan 2 – 1 in a great pitchers dual between Liam Kruse and Austin Brown to earn the first of 4 spots to the Showcase and moving the Okanagan onto the elimination side; In the other winners side qualifier it was Coquitlam knocking off Abbotsford for that second spot and Abbotsford moving to the elimination side.
On the elimination side; It was White Rock staying alive by defeating the Mid Island Pirates and the Badlands Academy defeating the Absolute Academy in a come from behind victory setting up the final two Qualification games between; White Rock vs. Okanagan and Abbotsford vs. Badlands with the winner qualifying and the loser out.
With the final two spots left for grabs it was the Tritons of White Rock narrowly defeating the Okanagan A’s 2- 1 and the Badlands Academy winning 4 – 2 over Abbotsford. Two well fought battles that unfortunately keeps two teams out of the Spring Classic.
The Spring Showcase event is run by the Big League Experience and is a tournament that is scouted by a number of MLB teams and college baseball programs and considered to be the #1 baseball scouted tournament in Western Canada prior to the draft. Such MLB players as Ryan Dempster, Justin Morneau, Jeff Francis, Rene Tosoni and Brett Lawrie to name a few along with many present professional players have all participated in this tournament that also includes 100’s of those moving on into the college ranks.
The 10 teams that have qualified for this year’s Tournament are:
From Alberta: Last year’s Champions Okotoks Dawgs, the Vauxhall Baseball Academy, Edmonton Prospects and Badlands Academy. From British Columbia it will be the Langley Blaze, North Shore Twins, Victoria Mariners, Coquitlam Reds, White Rock Tritons and Team BLE Selects.
In the Bantam division:
The Bantam teams were also in full action with the Premier teams as 8 teams from throughout BC and Alberta had a very competitive fall Tournament. Teams included, from Alberta; The Parkland Twins, Absolute Baseball Academy, St. FX Academy and the Calgary Coyotes. From BC the representatives where; The Coquitlam Reds, Kamloops River Dogs, Okanagan A’s and the Mid Island Pirates.
After round robin play it was the Parkland Twins and St. FX moving into the playoff round from Pod A and Coquitlam and the Absolute Baseball Academy from Pod B. In Semi action Parkland crossed over and defeated a strong Absolute team and the Reds from Coquitlam knocked of St. FX. With the finals being set the Coquitlam team out lasted a very good Parkland Twins to take home the Fall championship.