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It seems like forever since pitcher Jordan Kealty closed out one of the most memorable games ever played at Norbrock Stadium, sealing the Kamloops RiverDogs’ first provincial title since 2007.
Kamloops edged the Vancouver Mounties 11-10 on July 31, 2011.
It was an edge-of-your-seat thriller nobody in attendance will soon forget.
What was forgettable was the B.C. Minor Baseball Association midget AAA squad’s performance at the 2011 Western Canada Baseball Association championship in Victoria.
The Dogs finished 1-3 and out of the playoffs.
Fast-forward one year and Kamloops has a chance to get back to the Western stage as the 2012 provincial championship gets underway on Thursday, Aug. 2, in Chilliwack.
“With those high expectations comes that added pressure and we’ve been trying to manage that as best we can,” said coach Sean Wandler, who only lost one player — pitcher Spencer Lord — to graduation after last season.
“Our philosophy this year is not to take anything for granted and play one game at a time.”
Kamloops, seeded second at the tournament, is in Pool B with third-seed Tri-City, sixth-seed Cowichan and seventh-seed Vancouver.
First-seed Victoria, fourth-seed Richmond, fifth-seed Chilliwack and eighth-seed Cloverdale make up Pool A.
The RiverDogs went on a tear at the end of the season, winning nine of their last 10 league games, including a two-game sweep of top-seed Victoria, which finished the season 29-6.
Kamloops posted a 26-9 mark.
“We just wanted to keep getting stronger each week and it seems like we finished off on a real positive note,” said Wandler, who has been in the Kamloops dugout for 13 years.
“Hopefully, that carries into this weekend.”
Mike Gilfillan has been the go-to guy on the mound for the RiverDogs this season.
He will have the ball when Kamloops opens its tournament at 3 p.m. today against Cowichan.
Powering the River City team’s lineup will be the heart of the order — Colin Rintoul, Dylan Luison, Kyle Pouncy and Connor Kozak.
“That’s one thing we haven’t had difficulty doing this year is generating offence,” Wandler said.
The provincial final is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 5.
To the victor: A spot at Westerns, held from Aug. 23 to Aug. 27 in Sherwood Park, Alta.
For the eight graduating RiverDogs, it will be tough to keep Alberta off the mind.
“It would be a nice feather in their caps to go out on a positive note, but our goal is just to go and play good, hard baseball and let the cards fall where they may,” Wandler said.