Some mergers result in magical dividends.
The joint project that is the North Fraser Nationals – a merger of Burnaby and Vancouver minor baseball associations in the 18-under division – proved wildly successful and has the team in New York this week in hopes of running the table.
The Nationals captured the 18u AAA B.C. title 10 days ago, with a powerful string of games that featured their share of ups and downs.
Exacting a little revenge for their lone loss of the tourney, North Fraser took down the North Island Cubs 11-5 to capture the title and a spot at this week’s Blue Chips Prospect tournament on Long Island, New York.
Behind a strong pitching performance from Matthew Shewfelt, who gamely took the mound after getting hit on the ankle by a foul ball earlier in the day, the Nationals held the Cubs to four runs in the first five innings.
Outfielders Carter Kada-Wong, Jason Merkens and Leo Chen chased down a number of dangerous hits off Island bats, erasing the memory of a 7-1 setback in the second game of round-robin action.
To advance to the final, the Nationals faced the No. 1-seeded Kelowna Sun Devils and a harrowing pitchers duel that ended with a 2-1 win.
Michael Ellis was masterful in matching Kelowna’s best hurler, while a 1-0 deficit was flipped when Burnaby’s Nicolas Santarelli launched a two-run homer in the third inning to the opposite field to secure the victory.
North Fraser kicked off the Burnaby-hosted tourney by blasting South Fraser 10-0, before suffering their single loss to North Island. In a must-win game against the No. 2-seeded Cowichan Valley Mustangs, the Nationals responded with a convincing 17-3 win.
Burnaby's players are Jackson Mazzucco, Christian Melo, Kada-Wong, Merkens, Santarelli and Shewfelt.