By CURTIS J. PHILLIPS, Connect Contributor
Local sports fans will have a chance to watch future stars come out at the 2016 Baseball Canada Cup championship from August 2 to 8.
The championship will showcase the skills of the best under-17 male baseball players from 10 provincial teams by hitting the diamonds for a five-day period in Fort McMurray.
With a combined 35 games split between MacDonald Island’s Shell Place baseball stadium and Ross A. Henniger Park in Thickwood Heights, there’s no doubt a few college and university – or pro – baseball scouts will be in attendance.
One player on the radar – as a baseball and hockey future prospect – is multisport athlete Robbie Holmes of Team Alberta.
Holmes, a 6-foot-2 infielder, has an impressive baseball resume having participated in the 2014 Alberta Summer Game (Gold), 2014 Canadian National U15 Baseball Championships, 2012 Canadian Little League Championships, and most recently, the 2015 Western Canada Summer Games (which were hosted right here in the region with Team Alberta losing to Team Manitoba 5-1 in the bronze medal match).
Hailing from New Sarepta in Leduc Country, Holmes was named to Canada’s 18 Under National Team this year and participated in a series of exhibition games. This included a stint this past March down in St. Petersburg, Florida, where the highlight was an exhibition game versus the Toronto Blue Jays.
“We were playing against some prospects that were with MLB clubs and we got to play against some MLB players on the Toronto Blue Jays that are Canadian,” said Holmes, in an interview with the Regina Leader Post. “We played against Michael Saunders, Russell Martin, Dalton Pompey, Scott Diamond and a couple others. It was pretty cool to see what it’s like to maybe try and get to the next level.”
Playing for the Parkland Twins/Spruce Grove White Sox, Holmes gives credit to all of his coaches to-date, including Reggie Rivard, assistant coach with Team Alberta: “Who took the time to provide me with baseball tips. One of the most important things he told me was to set my goals high and to work hard.”
Rivard is a familiar face in Fort McMurray. In 2007, he was hired as director of baseball development and operations for Fort McMurray Minor Baseball Association. It’s a position he held for several years.
Shortly after his Florida baseball adventure, Holmes took off the baseball uniform and placed on the hockey sweater of the Western Hockey League‘s (WHL) Regina Pats, skating in six 2015-2016 WHL playoff games.
A left winger, selected by the Pats in 2014 WHL Bantam Draft, Holmes was also called up from the Sherwood Park Kings AAA in January, playing in two WHL regular season games for the Pats, scoring two goals.
Of the ability to play two sports at a high level, he said in an interview: “I like them both evenly. It would be cool to keep playing both sports, but … I’m still not quite sure. Hopefully, it all works out.”
British Columbia and Ontario has dominated at the Baseball Canada Cup championships with a combined 20 titles; B.C. having the edge 12-to-8. Quebec has held the mound six times while Saskatchewan struck gold in 1994.
Alberta has yet to hit it out of the ball park with silver status in 2002 and 2014. The gold medal game is set for Sunday, August 7 at 7:30 p.m. at Shell Place.
Tickets are adults: $69 tournament, $19 day, $10 game; Ages 6-17: $48 tournament, $13 day, $5 game.
– Connect Weekly –