The University of the Fraser Valley Cascades suffered a heartbreaking loss in Sunday’s Canadian Colleges Baseball Conference championship game, falling 10-9 to the Okanagan College Coyotes.
Making their first-ever appearance in the CCBC final in their second year in the league, the Cascades had leads of 4-1 through three innings and 5-3 through four.
But UFV pitching couldn’t contain the OCC bats.
The Coyotes chased Cascade starter Riley Ens (Langley) in the fifth inning, putting four runs on the board. Relief pitcher Liam Campbell (Chilliwack) put out the fire, briefly, but when the ball was handed to Dylan Emmons (Vernon) in the sixth inning, the Coyotes continued the onslaught.
OCC got to Emmons for one in the seventh and two in the eighth to lead 10-8 heading to the bottom of the ninth inning.
UFV got within one and had the bases loaded with slugger Stephen Horner (Vancouver) at the plate, but Coyote closer Wyatt Hummel got a pop up to first base to end the game.
“What a tough loss after a great week of baseball,” said Cascades coach Shawn Corness. “Before getting here we chatted about what it would take to compete and every player bought in and gave us a chance to win it all.
“The championship game was obviously a heartbreaker, but to be within a hit of winning with the bases loaded, a coach could not ask for anything more in only our second year.”
UFV started the CCBC tournament in Kamloops with a pair of round-robin wins Thursday, beating OCC 10-0 and Thompson Rivers U 12-5.
A Matt Legg home-run and a Donovan Moorman walk-off double got UFV past the Calgary Dinos by an 8-7 count Friday morning.
Parker Logan (Chilliwack) threw a complete game shutout and Colin Kellington (Chilliwack) went 4-5 at the plate in a 12-0 win over the defending champions from the Prairie Baseball Academy.
A 12-8 win over the Vancouver Island Mariners on Saturday secured UFV’s spot in the final.
“The round-robin portion of the tournament was exciting to watch as we got great performances out of different players every day,” Corness said.
“Kellington and (Riley) Jepson led the way all week with great support from the players around them in a total team effort.”
Likely playing his last game for the Cascades, potential Major League Baseball draft pick Jepson went 5-6 with four runs scored in the championship game.Kellington banged out three hits and every player in the UFV lineup reached base at least once.
The Cascades came into the playoffs as pretty steep underdogs after fashioning an 11-15 record in regular season play, but Corness’ crew played best when it mattered the most, and the coach is proud of them.
“We knew we had a very strong crew and through the year it was a bit of a back and forth struggle with many of our losses coming by way of beating ourselves,” Corness noted. “This week showed everyone the type of team we are and we are definitely going to be a team to reckon with next year and in the years to come.”