BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN
Brandon’s Ashton Anderson lays down a bunt in Monday’s Bantam AAA final in the UCT Canada Day Classic.
Brad Schoonbaert, the head coach of the Brandon Bantam AAA Knights, said his baseball team needs good pitching and solid defence to have a decent chance of winning games and tournaments.
Brandon’s Mitchell Lyall takes a swing at a pitch during Monday’s final. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
Brandon Bantam Knights’ Jordan Robertson dives safely back to first in Monday’s UCT Canada Day Classic. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
That’s exactly what he got from his players in the championship game of the Bantam AAA Division in the UCT Canada Day Classic at Simplot Millennium Park on Monday afternoon. Mitchell Lyall allowed one unearned run on three hits and two walks and struck out 11 batters as the Knights defeated Manitoba South Central 8-3 to win their home tournament.
Lyall’s performance fit in with the domination Brandon’s pitchers showed all weekend as they held their opponents to six total runs in their four games. Schoonbaert was impressed with his pitchers and he always had faith in Lyall, even when he pitched into a couple jams in the final.
"I’ve coached him in ball and hockey since he was five years old and he loves pressure," Schoonbaert said. "He’s the sort of kid that if you had four or five lined up and said ‘Who wants the ball? It’s the most important inning of our season.’ He would be the first to jump out and say he’d want it. It’s just the sort of kid he is."
Brandon also got timely hits throughout the final, especially from Ashton Anderson. The Rivers native, who was a force at the plate during the whole tournament, went 2-for-3, came around to score twice and drove three teammates home against South Central.
Anderson said his success came from a simple approach.
"(It was just) focus," he said. "Just bat on ball and looking for your pitch. You just have to wait for it."
Marshal Burgess finished 1-for-3 and scored a pair of runs for Brandon.
This was the Knights’ second tournament of the season and they took a lot of pride in winning it in front of their family and friends. Lyall said it did a lot more as the team prepares for the provincial championship, which Brandon will host from Aug. 3-5.
"It’s a huge boost of confidence for everyone for sure," he said. "It’s nice to know that we can beat everyone if we’re playing our best. If everyone’s hitting good and playing good, we have the best team here."
Schoonbaert was happy to see his team play as well as they did on the weekend, but he wants to use this event as a building block for the rest of the summer.
"You want to play to the best of your ability early on so you can keep building from that," he said. "You want to be in pressing situations in games that are really crucial that you can learn from and keep working on for that month down the road. The second thing is this tournament goes a long way for the rankings and where the draws will end up for provincials. Beating that very good team over there I’m sure will help us as well."
The Knights have next weekend off before they travel to Melville, Sask., for a tournament against some of Saskatchewan’s top teams.
Meanwhile, the Westman-based Midwest team was held to three hits in their 4-0 loss to the St. James A’s in the Bantam AAA Division 2 final yesterday. Dayton Heino took the loss for Midwest, while Keenan Lewis hit a pair of singles. Riley Shamray recorded the other hit for Midwest.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 3, 2012