The Fraser Valley Chiefs weren’t about to take their best-of-three series with the Prince George Citizen Knights for granted.
For the Knights, it’s a series they’d rather forget.
Playing at Prince George Citizen Field with the support of hometown fans, the Knights looked anything but comfortable. The team’s pitchers appeared to throw all they had at the Chiefs, but the visiting team made the hits look easy, putting on a run-scoring clinic en route to two decisive victories, 15-2 on Saturday and 12-2 on Sunday. With the 2-0 series victory, the Chiefs earned a berth to the Big League Baseball national championship for 17- and 18-year-old players beginning Saturday in Calgary.
“We just didn’t have it,” said a frustrated Knights coach Rainer Lippman following the game. “We didn’t have enough arms and guys from the Chiefs hit the ball really well.”
Pitching count rules introduced to Little League didn’t help the Knights, who ran short of throwers on Sunday.
“The new pitch count rules in Little League made all our pitchers from the first game ineligible for the second game,” Lippman said.
Lippman said if a pitcher throws more than 25 pitches one game, he’s ineligible to pitch for a day. If he throws more than 50, he’s ineligible to throw for two days and if he throws more than 75, he’s ineligible for three days.
While the score may indicate taking the B.C. title was a breeze, Chiefs manager Ray Jones said they weren’t looking past provincials.
“Prince George makes us very nervous because of the provincial rivalry we’ve always had. They play hard. I think last night the score was big but I think we got all the breaks. We seemed to have that one big inning and it just kind of hurt them, as if it was the other way it would’ve hurt us, if they had a big inning like that.
“I know they were under-manned,” he said. “They lost a couple of their top players which hurt them. In games like that it’s unfortunate because win or lose I never like to see big scores like that for anybody.”
Struggling to field a full squad has been the story of the season for the Knights. Lippman noted that they’ve had difficulty just getting nine players for a starting lineup in men’s league games.
“They have a huge area to draw from,” he said of the Chiefs. “They have a lot more game action and see a lot more competition than us.”
The Chiefs inflicted most of the damage on the Chiefs during a couple big innings. On Sunday six base runners crossed the plate in the bottom of the third, while Saturday’s game featured an 11-run outburst.
Hitting has been a strength of the Chiefs this season. Jones also gave credit to his pitching staff, which held the home team to four runs in the series. He’s confident in his team’s chances at nationals.
“We just have to continue doing what we’re doing,” he said. “(The players) have to discipline themselves you know. Get some sleep, no alcohol.”
The national championship is scheduled for July 14-18. The Chiefs will battle against four other teams – the host Calgary squad, another representative from the Prairies, Ontario and Quebec. The winner of that competition advances to that age group’s World Series competition, July 28 to Aug. 4 in Easley, S.C.