By Cole Parkinson
For Taber Times
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
With a single game left on the calendar for this spring, the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball Jets have seen their winning streak reach an astronomical level. Heading into this past weekend, the Jets were back down south as they played in the Missoula Memorial Day Tournament.
The Jets opened up the tournament with a game against the home team Missoula Mavericks. The bats continued to propel the Jets forward as VAB collected an 11-6 win. Brett Getz and Hudson Kozicki got on the mound for the Jets en route to the win. The offence saw Stevyn Andrachick went 2-4 with two RBI, Cardel Dick was a perfect 3-3 with a double and an RBI, Kyle Yip went 2-5 with a three-run home run, Colin Fisher was 2-5 with an RBI, Alex Laurence had a double and a triple, while Brennan McTavish, Eric Reiling (two RBI), Carson Boyko, and Seth Christie each had a single hit.
Saturday saw the Jets take on the CDA Lumbermen and once again the bats took care of business with an 8-5 win. Dick was 3-4 with a double, two triples, and three RBI, Yip was 2-4 with a triple and two RBI, Fisher was 2-4 with a home run and three RBI, Raphael Ranger had a double, and Luke Wheatley, Ty Clemett, and Andrachick all had one hit each. Jimmy Boulanger got the start and the win while Keegan McNeil collected the save.
The third game of the tournament saw the Jets put it all together as VAB put up a 13-0 win over the Badlands Academy. Patrick MacInnis and Yip pitched their way to a combined one-hitter. Fisher was 2-4 at the dish with two home runs and five RBI, Dick was 2-4 with two doubles, McTavish and Ranger were each 2-4, Christie and Haney each had a double, Boyko had a triple and three RBI, while Laurence and Andrachick had a hit.
Looking to finish off the round-robin undefeated, the Jets lined up against the Helena Senators in the final game. Once again, the Jets turned it up a notch as they took the game 10-1. Jacob Burgess and Drew Lenehan combined for a two-hitter while the offence continued to put up crooked numbers. Andrachick had 2-3 with a double and two RBI, Dick was 2-5 with a double and an RBI, McTavish was 2-4 with an RBI, Clemett was 2-4 with an RBI, and Yip, Fisher, Reiling, and Laurence each had a hit.
“We came out and we played decent baseball games. In the first two games, we maybe didn’t play as complete as we had been playing in the last month and a half, but we found a way to scrap. Our offence was really strong in the first couple of games, which gave us some breathing room. And then as we worked into games three and four, the pitching started to pick up. When you only allow two runs in the final three games, that certainly helps with the way that the group swings the bat. We played good, clean defence last three games,” explained Les McTavish, VAB head coach.
With an undefeated round-robin, the Jets saw a rematch against CDA Lumbermen. The Jets took a 2-1 lead late into the game before the offence took off for a 9-1 win. Jack Baxter took the win on the mound while MacDonald closed things out. Dick was 2-3 with a triple and three RBI, Yip had one hit, Fisher had a hit with three RBI, McTavish was 1-3 with an RBI, Laurence had a double, and Boyko was 1-2.
“It was a much closer game, though, than the final score of 9-1. It was a 2-1 game in the bottom of the fifth and the top of the fifth. They tried to squeeze on us with players at second and third. We ended up getting past the squeeze and then striking the next guy out. So it really could have been a 2-2 game or a 3-2 game quickly there. But credit to our pitchers — they had second and third, nobody out. We went, strikeout, strikeout, and strikeout to end it,” added McTavish.
In a few words to describe the 2022-23 team, McTavish said “compete and resilience” defines this version of the Jets. And while the win streak has been a high point, the work in the fall and the winter is hugely beneficial to what has transpired over the last several weeks.
“Our whole staff is proud of them. They put in the work, they’re a resilient group that came to work every day and gave us their best effort. Some days the pitching wasn’t there, some days the hitting wasn’t there, but it just seemed like it was always a 23-man effort and just next man up. Sometimes we might have a guy or two that didn’t play up to their abilities, but it just seemed like the next guy picked them up,” added McTavish. “That’s a tribute to the kids and the work they put in. At the end of the day, this group, as much as any group we’ve ever had, it was all about team, and it’s all about trying to help the program win — and a 24-game winning, to be honest with you, I believe our longest one up until that point, 17 years, is 14 or 15 games. It was against some of the most well respected, best programs both in Canada and the United States.”
The Jets wrap up the season with the annual TCMM game against the Lethbridge Bulls Thursday night with the first pitch at 6:30 p.m.
“It is always an honour to be part of the TCMM game. We look forward to going out and competing one last time and leaving it all out on the field, just like Tanner and Mitch always did. It will be a sad day to watch these seniors graduate,” added McTavish.
Tickets for the game are $10 and can be bought at https://www.bullsbaseball.com/