The Nanaimo Pirates are among B.C.’s best AAA U13 baseball teams, and this weekend, they get to chase a championship on their home field.
The team hosts B.C. Minor Baseball’s U13 AAA championship tournament starting Friday, July 29, at the Serauxmen Sports Fields.
The Pirates were already assured a berth in provincials as the host team, but they earned it anyway, finishing first in league play. Now they’ll take on B.C.’s strongest minor baseball programs in tournament play, and it’s a big deal to all involved as there’s potential to advance to Western Canadian championships and beyond.
Coaches Thomas Leaf and Colin Borrelli have been hyping up provincials, as they remember what it was like when they were Nanaimo minor baseball players taking to a picture-perfect diamond for a big tournament in their hometown.
“It felt like you were in the big leagues all of a sudden at 12 years old,” Leaf said.
He said Nanaimo has some of the better baseball players in the province for their age group this year, and they complement their skill with a gritty style of play.
“The way we’ve tried to coach this team is we take pride in playing sound defence, pitching the ball really well, and this team, their IQ is off the charts,” Leaf said. “People of Nanaimo I think will be really impressed with the quality of baseball that they see come August long.”
He said it’s cool to see that the players want to be at practice every day improving when they could be spending their summer in other ways, and said it’s exciting to coach a group that has “so much fire and desire” to play baseball.
Borrelli said it’s a group of players that seems well-suited to the extra pressure of a provincial championship tournament.
“With any youth sports teams you see ups and downs, but this team, throughout its ups and downs has maintained a positive attitude and you can never count them out,” he said. “They’re going to fight for each other, they’re going to play for each other.”
GAME ON … Games start Friday, July 29, with the provincial championship final on Sunday, July 31. Opening ceremonies will be Thursday, July 28, at 4 p.m., with a home run derby at 4:45 p.m.