Ten years is too long, said TRU WolfPack pitcher Tyler Hodder.
“A decade to win a national championship?” the 6-foot-4, 245-pound Fort McMurray product told KTW on Tuesday. “Ten’s a little big in my eyes.”
The Pack, paced by pitching aces Tyler Moskalyk and Hodder, have every intention of snapping the club’s drought, its most-recent Canadian Collegiate Baseball Conference Championship title coming in 2009.
This year’s national championship, effectively a league championship as it will feature the CCBC’s seven teams, will run from Thursday to Sunday at Norbrock Stadium.
Head coach Ray Chadwick’s charges clinched the No. 1 seed for the double-knockout format tournament with a 6-4 victory over the Fraser Valley Cascades in Abbotsford on Monday.
Final CCBC standings: TRU (21-7), Okanagan College Coyotes (21-7), Fraser Valley (15-9), Prairie Baseball Academy Dawgs (9-15) of Lethbridge, Edmonton Collegiate (8-16), Calgary Dinos (8-18) and Vancouver Island University Mariners (8-18) of Nanaimo.
The WolfPack earned the top seed based on a tiebreaker, edging the Coyotes in runs-for-and-against differential in head-to-head matchups.
“It’s huge,” Chadwick said. “It gives us a bye. Everybody plays before we play.”
PBA and Edmonton will square off at 10 a.m. on Thursday. The winner will advance to play TRU a few hours later, with first pitch slated for 7 p.m.
Moskalyk (7-1) led the league in wins (seven) and strikeouts (80) and was second in earned-run average (1.68).
“Hodder has always pushed me,”said Moskalyk, a 6-foot-2 hurler from Thunder Bay. “As soon as I came here, I knew he was the No. 1 guy. Where I came from, I was the No. 1 guy.
“You always want to be the No. 1 guy. It’s a competition, but it’s a friendly one.”
Statistics indicate Kamloops Minor Baseball Association product Riley Jepson of Fraser Valley is the league’s best hitter.
The Salmon Arm native played 24 games and led the CCBC in batting average (.405), tied for the lead in home runs (six) and was sixth in RBI (18).
“Me and him have some unbelievable battles,” Moskalyk said. “He’s a very tough guy to get out. You throw a perfect pitch and he finds a way to foul it off.
“My focus this week is going to be working on pitches to get him out. I’ve got a few ideas, but I don’t know if they’re going to work.”
The two teams that advance to the final will play a best-of-three series. Game 1 is slated for 7 p.m on Saturday, Game 2 is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday and Game 3, if necessary, will get underway at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
“I was hearing whispers the last time this team clinched first in the regular season is the last year they won it,” said Bryant Jameus, a fourth-year WolfPack player and Kamloops product. “Hopefully, it’s the same case this year.”
WolfPack baseball program in danger?
A projected funding cut has the potential to endanger the TRU WolfPack baseball team’s existence, according to head coach Ray Chadwick.