For the first time in its short history, the University of the Fraser Valley baseball program stands alone atop the Canadian College Baseball Conference.
The Cascades capped their third season of CCBC play by claiming the league championship on Sunday in Kamloops.
The fourth seed coming into the tourney, UFV beat the odds and defeated the Okanagan College Coyotes in a best-of-three final.
“This has been probably the craziest tournament I’ve ever been a part of,” Cascades coach Jordan Lennerton marveled afterward. “This group of guys rallied together and battled for their life. Their grit, their passion to play, and their unity is what got us this championship.”
After losing their opening game in the double-elimination tourney (7-4 to the Calgary Dinos), the Cascades had to win four games in a row on the back side of the draw to qualify for the final.
They beat Vancouver Island University 7-0, Calgary 8-4 and the Prairie Baseball Academy 12-11, punching their ticket to the final with a 9-4 win over top-seeded Thompson Rivers U.
That set up a rematch with the Coyotes, who beat UFV 10-9 in last year’s final.
The Cascades opened with a 6-4 win.
Okanagan College built a 3-0 lead through three innings, but UFV exploded for four runs in the top of the sixth.
Markus Gregson got UFV on the board with a two-run double, and Chilliwack’s Liam Campbell drove in two more runs with a bases-loaded single.
The Cascades scored twice more in the eighth, and Alex Deluca closed things out on the mound, earning the save.
The Coyotes evened the series with a 7-5 win in game two.
With the score tied 5-5 heading to the bottom of the ninth, the Coyotes got a two-out, two-run home run from Massimo Peranio to extend the series. UFV’s Josh Berenbaum and Stephen Horner had three hits apiece, and Travis McDougall had a solid outing on the mound, allowing two earned runs over seven innings.
There was no drama in the decisive third game as UFV blew out the Coyotes 13-2.
Horner was the hero.
The sophomore centre fielder racked up an incredible seven RBI, going 3-for-4 with a home run, two doubles and a walk.
Horner got the UFV squad off on the right foot with a two-run double in the top of the first, cranked a three-run dinger to spark a five-run third, and doubled home two more runs in the seventh as the Cascades mercy-ruled OCC (leading by 10-plus runs through seven innings).
Not to be outdone, Brody Vogel went 4-for-4 with four runs scored.
Jordan Sass and Jonah Weisner drove in two runs apiece, and Riley Jepson drew three walks and scored three runs.
Campbell picked up the win on the mound, coming on in relief of starter Ian Zwartz to toss four and one-third innings of shutout ball.
“Losing on day one, we had to go through the back door, but as soon as we explained the schedule and the guys understood it, they took it upon themselves to be prepared,” Lennerton summarized. “They knew what they had to do, and they fought through it.”