Canada Day Classic returns to McArthur
Watching baseball at the Daley & Company Canada Day Classic has become a tradition for many families in Kamloops.
That tradition continues this weekend on McArthur Island with the 11th running of the tourney, which is hosted by the midget AAA Kamloops RiverDogs.
RiverDogs head coach Sean Wandler watched his squad win the inaugural Canada Day Classic 11 years ago — the Dogs haven’t reached the final since.
“We had a good team that year but, because the tournament wasn’t well known, we didn’t attract some of the top-notch clubs we have now, so the competition has increased substantially,” Wandler said.
“It’s a good challenge for us and it makes us better.”
Not only is the tourney a tradition for spectators in the crowd, it’s a tradition for many of the teams in attendance.
Sherwood Park of Alberta, for example, has sent a team to the tourney since its inception and this year the club is sending two squads — the A’s and the A’s-Dukes.
The Alberta-based teams joining Sherwood Park at the tournament are the Calgary Longhorns, the Edmonton Cardinals, the Spruce Grove Sox and the Red Deer Braves.
Rounding out the tournament’s participants are the North Shore Jr. Twins of Vancouver, the Mid-Island Mustangs of Vancouver Island and the Ridge Meadows Royals.
The tourney’s 10 teams will break into two pools of five. The top four teams in each pool will be seeded after the round-robin (which wraps up on Saturday, July 2) before the playoffs get underway on Sunday, July 3.
Last year’s Canada Day Classic champions — Laces Baseball Academy of Everett — will not be making the trip to Kamloops this year.
Anchoring the Dogs will be team captains Spencer Lord, who pitches and plays third base, Colin Rintoul, a middle infielder, and James Arko, who mans centre field.
Lord, the squad’s elder statesman (he’s the only graduating Grade 12 on a team made up of players in grades 10 and 11), has appreciated the vibe in the Dogs’ dugout this season.
“As opposed to the last couple years, we have a lot more team chemistry,” said Lord, who boasts a .44 ERA in the 16 innings he’s pitched this season.
“Everybody is friends and everybody is part of the team.”
Teams tend to get along when they’re playing well, too, which has been the case for the Dogs in B.C. Midget AAA League play in 2011.
The Dogs are 19-9 and sit fourth in the league behind Victoria, Vancouver and Ridge Meadows, which is atop the standings with a 25-4 record.
Kamloops is in action today at 3 p.m. against Edmonton and again at 8:30 p.m. against North Shore.
The Dogs close out their round-robin schedule at 6 p.m. on Saturday with a tilt against the Sherwood Park A’s-Dukes.
All of Kamloops’ round-robin games will be played at NorBrock Stadium
The first pitch of Sunday’s final will be thrown at 3 p.m. at NorBrock.
For more information on the tournament, call Wandler at 250-574-3990.