It was an evening that featured plenty of errant throws, misplayed balls and some ugly swings at the plate, yet Cam Frick couldn’t have been more pleased…his baseball team was at last playing an actual game.
In what was nearly two years in the making, thanks mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Delta Tigers were welcomed into the B.C. Premier Baseball’s Bantam Prep League with a loss to the White Rock Tritons on Wednesday night at South Surrey Athletic Park.
“It’s been 20-plus months since most of them have played a competitive game. It’s great to have the umpires back and to play a solid team in a nice park on a nice day. We looked a little nervous, but that’s okay,” said Frick.
The Tigers made the move from BC Minor Baseball to the BCPBL after a dominant 2019 campaign that saw them win just about everything but the national title, settling for silver at the 15U Canadian Championships in Oshawa. Ironically, most of the players from that team were in action on the adjacent diamond as the Tigers’ parent team, North Delta Blue Jays, took on White Rock as well to open their league season.
There will be no provincial or Canadian titles for the Tigers to chase this campaign but there is an action-packed schedule for the rest of summer that will feature 36 games over roughly 70 days and culminate with league playoffs.
“We are going to treat it like it is a provincials. The kids deserve a real season and we are going to approach it just like that,” continued Frick.
As a high performance program, he is confident the pandemic hasn’t stalled players’ development as they look to reach the BCPBL level and potential scholarship opportunities. Coaches from other local sports organizations have suggested the training-only mode for essentially the last 15 months has benefitted their depth players. Frick agrees.
“You were in a situation where everyone got to play. Everyone was getting at bats and everyone was throwing bullpens. Everyone got into a groove and it almost felt like a college team with a set schedule of four practices a week. We were just missing the games,” he said.
“Our goal is to get the players to a certain level and graduate the Grade 9s to move on. They will get there. I would say practising a lot in certain ways really helped them. Just with some parts of the game of where they are at right now, but you will notice today though, you can’t simulate facing a live pitcher from another team. It’s just not the same facing your buddy on the same team in an inter-squad game.”
With the league taking a cautious approach to its schedule in case of any cancellations, the Tigers are playing eight straight games against White Rock before moving onto three more with the UBC Thunder. Once each of the series have concluded, they won’t see those teams again unless they meet in the playoffs.