Two local boys have bolstered the Prince George Knights Triple-A baseball team this year.
Dawson Ernst, 10, and Gavin Peterson, 12, made the drive up Highway 97 dozens of times for tryouts and practices so they could try their hand at more competitive ball.
By all accounts, it sounds like it was a win-win for both parties.
Dawson’s father Mike Ernst says he and Jay Paterson, Gavin’s dad, knew their sons had talent but were unsure of where they would rank on a high-level team.
After tryouts it became evident to the parents and coaches that the boys were two of the best players on the squad.
The Knights were set up to be a tournament team and travelled to meets in Kamloops, Kelowna and most recently Chilliwack, playing 12 games altogether this season.
Of those 12 games, the two boys combined for five MVP of the game awards.
Ernst says as it is little league, both boys pitched.
“All the kids have to pitch,” he says.
“But they were probably the top two pitchers on the team.”
In the Kelowna tournament, Ernst says Dawson pitched a four inning shutout, which is quite uncommon for baseball at that age.
Dawson played first base and third base as well as outfield, while Gavin played shortstop and catcher when not at the mound.
Gavin’s two older sisters play softball, so he has grown up around diamonds and has an uncanny knowledge and ball sense for a boy of his age, Ernst says.
“He had a highlight reel play in one game where he made a diving catch and roll at short before backhand-flipping the ball to second base for an out,” Ernst recalls.
“It was like watching a little Jeter,” he adds, referencing the much lauded New York Yankee shortstop.
While their pitching and fielding were excellent, Ernst says their bats were even better.
“Gavin probably had the higher hitting percentage of the two,” he says.
“In the last tournament he only missed the ball two or three times and I don’t think he ever got out while on base.”
They batted three and four in the line-up, with Dawson at clean-up.
One perfect situation led to him taking advantage of that placement, Ernst recalls.
“In the first tournament in Kamloops we were playing Edmonton and in the bottom of the first, the first three kids got on base,” he says.
“And first pitch – Dawson,” at which point Ernst claps his hands and points into the distance.
“No doubter. Grand slam.”
The team did not have the greatest record but managed to scrape out a couple wins in tournaments against some tough squads who play together far more often.
“Last year this team, with a few different kids but the same care, didn’t win a game,” Ernst says.
“We had three wins going into the final tournament and we had a lot of compliments and a lot of credit for being in all the games we played.”