The Langley Sr. Blaze are the 2014 Baseball Canada national champions.
The menâ€™s collegiate team earned this distinction by going 5-1 at the Canadian national tournament, held Aug. 20-24 in St. Johnâ€™s, Newfoundland.
The Blaze posted wins over Ontario (7-3), Nova Scotia (10-2), Newfoundland (6-3), New Brunswick (1-0 in the semifinal), and Ontario (3-0 in the final).
Langleyâ€™s lone loss came in its third game, a 7-3 defeat at the hands of Manitoba.
â€œIt was a very tough tournament, especially the final two games, and obviously with the game that we lost. We were facing ex-pros and collegiate pitchers who are very good, for the most part,â€ Blaze general manager Dave Diachuk said.
â€œIâ€™ve been trying this [Canadian championship win] for 30 years as a player and a manager and itâ€™s finally happened. It was quite a weight off my back and the rest of ours.â€
At the 2013 tournament in Windsor Ont., the Blaze finished as the runners up, losing 3-1 in the final to the host team.
Shawn Schaefer and Scott Tulloch from the Coquitlam Angels and Leon Boyd and Sean Hotzak from the Burnaby Bulldogs joined the Blaze for the tournament, and each played a role in the victory.
Game one: Blaze 7, Ontario 2
Shane Kraemer got the start and went 5.1 innings for the victory, giving up just two earned runs.
Keenan Takatch came into the game to preserve the lead in the sixth inning, while Dillon Reynolds got the save.
Scott Webster and Bobby Wagner each went two-for-three at the plate.
Wagner and Joe Germaine had home runs.
Game two: Blaze 10, Nova Scotia 2
Schaefer got the ball in game two and pitched a complete game while only giving up six hits.
At the plate, Sean Hotzak went three-for-four and Bob Foerster was two-for-three.
Graig Merritt, Hotzak and Foerster blasted home runs for the winning side.
Game 3: Manitoba 7, Blaze 3
Leon Boyd was tagged with loss going 4.1 innings while Steven Federau came on in relief to try to keep the Blaze in it.
Game four: Blaze 6, Newfoundland 3
Ryan Eiswerth picked up the win, going 6.1 innings with Reynolds picking up the save.
Brad Ferraro, Jesse Peters, Hotzak, and Mason Cratty each had two hits.
Game five semifinal: Blaze 1, New Brunswick 0
On the mound, Peters was simply great.
He pitched 7.2 innings, striking out 10 while only giving up two hits.
Schaefer came on in the top of the eighth inning to hold New Brunswick off the scoreboard.
Brad Ferraro went two-for-four at the dish while Foerster in the bottom of the eighth inning had a clutch hit, scoring Wagner from second for the win and a berth in the finals.
Game six championship:
Blaze 3, Ontario 0
Kraemer had his best outing of the year, picking up the win in a complete game effort.
He struck out 13 batters while only giving up one hit.
Foerster was two-for-four, offensively.
It should be noted that Kraemer, although he wasnâ€™t named to the tournament all-star team, was the top pitcher of the tournament (21 strikeouts, two wins).
Foerster (.455 average) and Hotzak (.409 average) were named to the tournament all-star team.
In 2015, the Blaze will try to get back to the B.C. provincial championships in their bid to earn a third title in four years, and get to the 2016 Canadian championships.
Kraemer had an outstanding season.
In 13 games, he allowed 36 hits and six earned runs while striking out 83.
He finished with a 9-0 record and an 0.64 ERA.
Kraemer finished with two wins in the provincials and a pair of wins at the nationals.
FINAL OUT: On average, the Sr. Blaze players are between 23 and 26 years of age.
The teamâ€™s oldest player is in his mid-30s.
Their home field is McLeod Athletic Park.
Langley residents playing for the Sr. Blaze include pitcher Ryan Eiswerth, infielder Bob Foerster, pitcher Keenan Takatch, and outfielder Jacob Yousif.
Utility player Joe Germaineâ€™s hometown is Aldergrove.
â€“ With files from the Langley Sr. Blaze website.