Pressure, excitement and team bonding form standout moments for Oak Bay youth Tyler Commandeur after his baseball team’s historic trip to nationals. Despite losing all games.
“You have fun but then there are times you have to be serious and try your hardest,” Tyler said. “It was very high-level baseball for kids our age, which was neat to experience.”
The Greater Victoria (District 7) Intermediate baseball team earned a berth at nationals after winning provincials in Langley. Officials say it’s the first time since the late 1990s that a Little League team from the Island has gone to nationals.
“It was really exciting because it’s the first time I’ve ever gone to a tournament like that and it’s the first time a Victoria team has made it since Michael Saunders played,” said Tyler, who plays during the regular season with Beacon Hill Little League.
The Victoria team fell 17-5 to the Fish Creek Cardinals of Calgary in the first game.
The second day Lethbridge dominated 24-1 but the third day they came up with a narrow 9-8 loss to another Calgary Team Rocky Mountain Red Sox.
After a day off, the Victoria team finished round robin play and the tournament with a 13-3 loss to Ontario’s Oakville Whitecaps.
Lethbridge Giants went on to defeat Rocky Mountain Red Sox 15-0 to take first place.
“It was very exciting and a lot of fun, but also different than what I expected,” Tyler said. “There’s a lot of pressure on your games.”
Tyler, 12, and his peers were among the youngest players in a level where players can range from 12 to 14.
“My coaches and parents said I played quite well,” said the outfielder. “I made some good plays in the outfield and had some good at bats. Personally I did fairly well I think.”
He’s quick to point out, despite the losses, the Victoria team wasn’t weak.
“We played fairly well,” Tyler said, adding the players had a mere three weeks to bond and build as a team. The other teams, at both provincials and nationals, are already established.
“Lethbridge, they’re an academy … they practice every single day,” he said. “Some of the teams were just better than us, skill wise, like Lethbridge and Ontario.”
The players came home with white cowboy hats after a traditional Calgary “white hat ceremony” to open the tournament.
The team members from all over Greater Victoria bonded over dinners out and sightseeing while in Calgary – even hanging out with kids on the other teams at times.
“On the field we’re kind of enemies but off the field we’re buddies,” Tyler said.
“It’s an experience that you remember forever. On and off the field it was fun.”