A Nelson baseball team has won the West Kootenay Little League majors division championship for the first time in the tournament’s decade-old existence.
Dylan Mowrey’s sacrifice fly scored Drake Proctor for the go-ahead run in the fourth inning and the Nelson Giants held on to beat the Beaver Valley Jays 9-8 on Sunday in Castlegar.
Giants pitcher Bryce Sookro meanwhile shut the door over the final three innings and struck out the last batter, prompting his teammates to surround him in celebration. The team came close last year to winning the title, only to fall to Castlegar in the final.
“The kids were super stoked,” said head coach Kevin Dewar. “We were happy for them just because they battled four games. After the game I didn’t get a chance to congratulate the Beaver Valley team as much as they should have been. They had to go through the [loser’s bracket], so they had to win six games in a row just to get to the finals. That in itself is a feat.”
Pitchers aren’t allowed to work more than four innings over two consecutive games, which meant Dewar had to be strategic to make sure Sookro was on the mound in the final. “We were fortunate enough to have our ace on the mound … the last three innings,” said Dewar.
Nelson entered the tournament for girls and boys ages 11 to 13 as the fifth seed after going 10-5-1 during the season.
The Giants opened the three-day event Friday with a 15-10 victory against the Trail Rangers. On Saturday, Sookro hit a grand slam and pitched three shutout innings to lead the Giants past the top-seeded Nelson Angels 6-3, a major upset after the Angels posted a 13-1 record heading into the game.
Tayten Dewar hit a three-run homer that broke open Sunday’s semifinal and the Giants went on to rout the second-seeded Okanagan Falls Gators 14-5, with Noah Quinn’s pitching, fielding and hitting a major factor in the win.
The title means Nelson will host next year’s tournament, which Kevin Dewar said is an achievement for the Nelson Baseball Association.
“Hats go off to all the parents who spend the time and the effort to make it all good, whether they’re helping with the fields or just bringing their kids to the field and letting them be who they are,” said Dewar. “It’s a great thing for Nelson, for sure.”