Liam Kruse in action during the 2015 Western Canada Summer Games in Wood Buffalo

Liam Kruse in action during the 2015 Western Canada Summer Games in Wood Buffalo

Victoria pitcher captures gold at Western Summer Games

Victoria’s Liam Kruse has returned from the Western Canada Summer Games a champion.

Victoria’s Liam Kruse has returned from the Western Canada Summer Games a champion.

The 16-year-old Victoria Mariners pitcher helped Team B.C. capture gold in baseball during the games in Wood Buffalo, Alberta from Aug. 7 to 16.

“The games were a lot of fun. It was cool meeting a new group of guys playing baseball and just staying in the athletes village and meeting new people from all the different provinces,” said Kruse about his first appearance at the games.

“I think we gelled really well as a team. We all have really good personalities and we’re all really nice guys. Some of us have played together before.”

It was a long road to the top, with the team winning six of seven games (despite only having one practice together). The most challenging game was against Manitoba when they won 6-2.

“I pitched that game and let in two runs through four innings,” said Kruse, adding that the second time they played Manitoba, B.C. crushed them 18-3.

And his favourite part?

The decisive gold-medal win against Saskatchewan with a score of 7-3.

“We all just started screaming, rushed the mound and jumped on each other,” laughed the Lambrick Park student. “All the emotions that came into that game was really cool.”

While it was a storybook ending for the team, Kruse said he was able to learn from the experience.

“Always just stay relaxed when you’re playing. There’s a lot more than sports at these events. It’s about making life-long friendships and meeting new people. That’s one thing I really learned,” he said.

Team B.C. topped the medal count ahead of Alberta and Manitoba with 280 medals (134 gold, 85 silver and 61 bronze) this year at the Western Canada Summer Games.

Victoria canoe/kayaker Coen del Valle also picked up silver in the K200 metre and bronze in the C15 war canoe.