‘Birds, Canadians exhibition showcases the best of Vancouver baseball

On a chilly Wednesday night at Nat Bailey Stadium, UBC baseball squared off against the Vancouver Canadians in the clubs’ annual exhibition game.

Although the ‘Birds dropped the Battle for BC 8–1 in seven innings, it was a celebratory night for baseball in the province that was played in front of an adoring crowd of Thunderbird fans.

“For the guys that have never been on here, I think it was a tremendous experience,” said head coach Chris Pritchett in a post-game interview with UBC Athletics. “I think we did really well.”

The ‘Birds rolled into The Nat in the midst of their season that has seen them go 7–5 in Cascade Collegiate Conference play and 21–15 overall. The Canadians, meanwhile, were in their final tune-up before their regular season opener on April 7 against Spokane.

The contest kicked off strong as UBC threatened C’s starter Trenton Wallace in the first but were held off the scoresheet thanks to some slick defending.

‘Birds starter Cole Alguire followed that up by keeping the Canadians scoreless in the home half of the inning thanks in part to a sensational double play by shortstop Mike Fitzsimmons on a tough ground ball up the middle.

But it’s hard to keep a pro team from scoring for very long. The C’s got to Alguire in the second thanks to some hard-hit balls and a throwing error by catcher Noah Or. James Brock came on in relief and struck out the only batter he faced.

The ‘Birds couldn’t get much offence going until the sixth when, after a leadoff single and some fortuitous contact, Or smacked a Connor Cooke offering through the infield to plate outfielder Luciano Letteri. After witnessing the ‘Birds get robbed of scoring chances throughout the game, the crowd was sent into a frenzy.

“It’s always nice to hit the ball,” said Or to UBC Athletics. “Seeing guys throw upper [‘90’s], we can compete with them.”

Ultimately, the C’s pitching proved to be too much for the ‘Birds as they evened the all-time series at one game apiece.

While the game ended in a loss for the ‘Birds, the occasion of the night provided more than enough reason to celebrate.

“It’s extra special to be here on the field and competing with my group,” said Pritchett to UBC Athletics. “It’s a win-win all the way around. I just love the opportunity to be here.”