The Carnarvon Cannons U9 All Star baseball team celebrate victory in Duncan.

The Carnarvon Cannons U9 All Star baseball team celebrate victory in Duncan.

Carnarvon Cannons take top spot on Island

Youngest team member Max Rudnyckyj wins home run derby

Fun, focus and hustle helped the Carnarvon Cannons All Star team win the U9 Vancouver Island Regional Championships held last weekend (July 4 to 6) at Evans Park in Duncan.

The team, comprised of seven- to nine-year-olds from the Carnarvon Ball Club, won three and tied one of their round-robin games to finish first in their pool, and then beat the Campbell River Blue Tyees in the semi-final to make it into the finals.

“It was a great group of kids,” said head coach Lorne Neil. “This is the second year Trevor’s (Lines, team manager) and my son were on the same team together.”

The tournament included a skills competition, and the Cannons blasted to the top of three out of four. “It was overall a dominating performance by the club,” said Neil.

Youngest team member Max Rudnyckyj won the home run derby.

They played Peninsula in the final game and won 10-2 to become the 2014 Vancouver Island Tadpole Regional Champions.

“It was a very balanced team, especially with batting. All 12 kids were extremely strong at bat,” said Neil. “They played really well offensively and defensively – it was a lot of fun ball.”

“They had a lot of raw skill from a coach’s perspective,” agreed Lines. “But hard work is what did it.”

Players were selected while house league games were still underway. “We started with a light practise schedule, then ramped up the schedule to four times a week in the second week of June,” said Lines.

After an undefeated series of exhibition games, the team was slightly caught off guard by the tie with Esquimalt in the first game of the regionals. “It was a real awakening for them. It reminded them that they have flaws, and  it really brought the team together,” said Lines.

Hard work from the players was augmented by the coaching staff and parents.

“We started with a concept of teamwork and community,” said Lines. “It’s one thing to have skilled players in baseball but each of the coaches filled in with their own strengths.”

And from raking the bases to bringing in snacks, the parents were also an integral part of the team, said Lines. “They continued to make things work, it was the most magical thing, they truly came together as a community.

“From the beginning we chose kids who we knew would get along, have a good attitude and perspective and have a strong family to chip in to make it work.”