The Ridge Meadows Royals were a little apprehensive going into the Aug. 17 exhibition game against the Burnaby Bulldogs. Many of the players had never faced a team with this much combined baseball talent.
The Saturday afternoon Junior Men’s baseball exhibition game at Hammond Stadium was hastily put together after the Junior Men’s playoff championships in Tsawwassen on Aug. 10-11. Fortunately, it worked out as both teams had breaks in their schedules.
The game provided a tune-up game for the Bulldogs before heading to the Canadian Championship in New Brunswick. For the Royals, it was a chance to showcase their skills against the highest level of amateur baseball in the country.
Due the impromptu scheduling of the game, some of the Royals’ key players were unavailable, particularly the pitching staff. So with the Aldergrove Dodgers’ Shone Fyke and Trevor Alcos, plus Tsawwassen Brewers’ Tyler Launiger, Brandon Graham, and Ivor Jackson, the Royals were able to get key pick-up players to shore up the roster.
The Royals starting pitcher, Aldergrove’s Shone Fyke, never before facing a team as talented as the Bulldogs, rose to the occasion. Fyke struck out one and the defense was able to get two in the top of the first.
The Royals struck first and were up 2-0 in the second inning. Fyke pitched over three scoreless innings, striking out five. Maple Ridge’s Kole Benard, next on the mound, was on fire. Benard threw blistering fastballs along with a mixture of off-speed pitches that kept the powerful Bulldog batters at bay. Giving up one run by the end of the sixth, The Royals were up 8-1.
The Royals defence was stifling. Jonah Weisner made miraculous shortstop plays. Weisner was able to pull in a sky-high popup on a direction-shifting ball. In a big-league play, Weisner threw his body backward doing a back somersault to stop what should have been a sure hit.
Team Captain, Kyron Smith, was solid at second, letting nothing get by him. The sure-handed Ryan Lipscomb was a rock at first base. The platoon of outfielders with Travis Klein and Dodgers’ Trevor Alcos and Shone Fyke, plus Tsawwassen’s Iver Jackson and Tyler Lauinger, was strategically sound, with all players lightning fast on the ball.
In the seventh and eighth innings, the Bulldogs were sensing a potential upset by the Royals, and their bats came alive in a big way. The Bulldogs had a big seventh inning, getting six runs, led by a massive grand slam to deep right centre field. In the eighth, the Bulldogs got four more runs and eventually won 11-8.
The Royals had the biggest crowd to date and the Bulldogs were able to get some rust off before heading to the Canadian Championships. People are rooting for the Bulldogs to bring home the title.
The Bulldogs and Royals are now talking about doing more exhibition games in 2020.
By holding their own with the Bulldogs – past Grand Forks winners and second in their division with a 3-2 record in 2019 – the Royals proved they can compete at this level.