LaFleur helps lead Team BC to first gold-medal game

With two Ladysmith connections, Team BC wins silver at Baseball Canada 2012 Midget Championships.

Silver medal winners of Team BC with their medals and flag at nationals in Quebec.

Silver medal winners of Team BC with their medals and flag at nationals in Quebec.

The very same game that ended their five-game winning streak would also dash their quest for gold, but B.C.’s first-ever midget AAA baseball team to compete in a gold-medal match at nationals was co-helmed by Ladysmith’s own Lorne LaFleur.

“It was a great experience,” he said.

The excitement took place at the Baseball Canada 2012 Midget Championships Aug. 16-20. Team BC was up against Quebec in their first game, which ended in a 6-3 win. In their second match against Alberta, whom they would meet again in the finals, Team BC squeaked out a 4-3 win.

Pitching in to assist the team’s success was Ladysmith’s Devon Geary, who was one of only 18 players across B.C. selected for the team. As one of Team BC’s three starting pitchers, Geary was assigned Game 2 of the championships and pitched the first six innings.

“It was very good; they took an early lead and it was 3-0, and then in the fifth inning, we came back and tied it,” Geary said.

A walk-off base hit ended the game in the bottom of the seventh, when a Team BC player broke his bat hitting a ball over the third baseman. Three more wins against Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and Quebec City landed the team in the finals against Alberta.

“Winning the semi-finals, it kind of hit us that we were one of the best teams in Canada — that was the coolest feeling,” Geary said.

LaFleur said Geary deserved kudos for pitching a winning game against what would be the gold medal winners.

“I thought he threw very well for the competition he was facing,” he said. “That was their only loss in the tournament.”

He added that the silver medal win is a big accomplishment for B.C., as many of the teams from other provinces are academy teams that play all year round.

“We just kind of pick ours, do a three-day mini-camp and away we go,” he explained. “They really gelled together.

“I’m happy for our guys, in particular Devon being from Ladysmith and being able to experience that.”

Geary, now 18, will be too old to compete with the Cowichan Valley Mustangs again next season; however, he has his sights set on the premiere league. He has been playing the game since he was five and says he flourishes on the pressure and attention that comes along with being on the pitching mound.

“I just like being the centre of attention,” he said. “Everyone’s watching me.”

LaFleur, a head coach with the Cowichan Valley Mustangs, said it was also a good experience for himself to work with a larger coaching staff of five.

“Everybody can really focus on their specific jobs,” he said.