Following in the footsteps of their senior sides, who took top honours at their national baseball championships over the Easter weekend, Western Province’s junior baseballers made a clean sweep at the South African Baseball Union’s national junior championships, at Chukker Road, at the weekend.
All of the final matches were contested between defending champions WP and Gauteng.
The under-12A side set the tone when they beat their northern rivals, 5-3.
The under-15 and under-18 sides followed in their footsteps, winning their respective divisions 5-1 and 10-0 to retain their titles.
The under-12-A side’s road to the final was not an easy one as they won their opening game 11-7 against the Winelands, followed by 14-5 and 7-6 victories against KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng B respectively to top Group A.
A 7-6 defeat to Gauteng A earlier in the competition set up a thrilling final. The defending champs bounced back with 6-3 and 13-5 victories against the WP B side and KZN to reach the finals.
Pitcher Aiden Carelse, a member of the triumphant WP side, said he was happy with his team’s performance, considering they ha lost to the same opponents earlier in the competition.
“I had butterflies in my stomach. It was such a great feeling to win this competition. None of our opponents was easy but our best was good enough,” he said.
WP under-12 head coach Quinton Amos said they had one goal in mind ahead of the competition which was to win it.
“Words cannot explain the feeling when we beat Gauteng A. Working with nine, 10 and 11 year olds in a short space of time and winning the tournament says it all,” he said.
“We have trained hard for about five months leading up to the competition. I have learnt that a lot of hard work and dedication from all coaches involved is needed if you’re working with young minds. The mere fact that we won makes us feel proud and that our hard work paid off at the end of the day,” he said.
Other regions that took part in the competition were Eden District, Mandela Bay, Winelands and a team from Zimbabwe.
In other action, WP under-18 pitcher Jarrod Williams was well supported by his fielders who turned a beautiful double play in the sixth innings.
Williams conceded five hits, two walks and fanned two hitters during his six innings on the mound. He was replaced by Brandon Smith who recorded the last three outs.
The under-15 final, on the other hand, was tightly contested as both teams used three pitchers but it was WP A who took advantage of the errors and walks given up by Gauteng A.
Just when the visitors were threatening, the home-side turned a double play to restrict their opponents.