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Trail players compete in elite Canadian baseball league

Trail players combine studies with the game they love in the Canadian College Baseball Conference
Prairie Baseball Academy Dawgs pitcher Brayden DeWitt delivers from the mound. Photo: Submitted

Four Greater Trail baseball players and former teammates went head-to-head at the Canadian College Baseball Conference (CCBC) opening weekend March 30-31.

Trail pitchers Brayden DeWitt, 20, and Jake Maniago, 19, play for the Prairie Baseball Academy (PBA) while attending Lethbridge College, with DeWitt playing in his second year and Maniago his first.

“It’s going really good,” said DeWitt. “It’s really fun to have another Trail guy with me. We’re going through the motions like we did back in Trail except at the college level.”

Meanwhile, Lucas Miracle and Connor Stainer are in Kamloops attending Thompson Rivers University (TRU).

The two teams faced each other in a four-game series, with DeWitt and Maniago travelling to Kamloops with the PBA Dawgs to take on Miracle and Stainer with the TRU Wolfpack.

It was only fitting that the teams split the four-game series, with both Maniago and DeWitt earning the wins in Games 2 and 3, but not without some dramatic moments.

Following a 9-0 Wolfpack win in Game 1, Maniago got his first start in Game 2, and earned a 6-5 comeback victory for PBA. After giving up four runs in the top of the first, Maniago settled in and gave up just one hit the rest of the way, going six strong innings, striking out four, while walking three.

DeWitt got the start in Game 3 and was throwing a no-hitter through seven innings with the Dawgs up 6-0, until Miracle came to the plate.

“I came into the later innings with no hits, but that is in the back of your mind, and you wonder ‘how long is this going to go?’,” said DeWitt. “My pitch count was getting up there … and Lucas Miracle was in the line up that day and every time he came up, I thought, ‘Is he going to be the one who gets the hit?’

“And what do you know? At the end of the day, he was the one.”

Miracle’s hit into right field spoiled the no-hitter for DeWitt and ended his outing in the seventh inning. But the right hander struck out seven batters, giving up just the one hit and four walks in the Dawgs 6-4 victory.

TRU exacted some revenge and tied the series with a 14-4 win in Game 4.

The CCBC is one of the most competitive leagues in the country, and includes Edmonton Collegiate, Thompson Rivers, University of Fraser Valley, Okanagan College, Prairie Baseball Academy, Vancouver Island University, University of Calgary and Victoria Collegiate.

Several players from the PBA go on to play NCAA or college baseball in the U.S. Many have been drafted by Major League teams and played in the professional ranks.

DeWitt and Maniago room together on the Lethbridge College campus, and while keeping up with their studies can be challenging, the chance to play baseball at an elite college level is rewarding.

“It is definitely another step up,” said DeWitt. “Last year was kind of a shocker to me, every time I came out on the mound I was definitely more nervous than I am this year.

“It’s fun to be in a competitive league, and being in my second year, I have a lot more confidence.”

Recently, retired teacher Lou DeRosa, a local historian and baseball coach, released a list of Trail baseball players that went on to play at Canadian and U.S. colleges and universities, as well as those who advanced to the professional ranks and/or other paths such as Team Canada.

In all, 95 local players and counting have played college baseball and beyond. Players like Jason Bay made it to the Major Leagues, while others like Kian Johnston currently plays pro ball in Kariskoga, Sweden, and ground-breaking talents like Fruitvale’s Allison Schroder is a member of the Women’s National Team and a role model, the first woman to play in the CCBC with Vancouver Island University in 2021.

The baseball talent that comes out of Trail is remarkable, says DeWitt. He, Stainer, and Maniago were part of the first West Kootenay Orioles team to win the Washington State ‘A’ American Legion title in 2019.

“Trail has always had a competitive baseball program going through all ages, and there has been a lot of players coming to the Prairie Baseball Academy before me.

“It’s definitely a boost of confidence coming from Trail. Not a lot of people know where it is, but it has a good reputation.”

The Dawgs will look to defend their CCBC league title after going 21-11 last season, but lost in the semifinal of the CCBC World Series double-knockout tournament.

“Our team definitely has a ton of potential this year,” said DeWitt. “We have very good pitching this year, and our depth at all positions is very good.

“So I think if we can put two-and-two together, we can go a long ways.”

PBA will host this year’s CCBC World Series in Lethbridge from May 16-20 at Spitz Stadium. Follow the teams online at

Also, check out the Trail College Alumni list at Trail Youth Baseball’s facebook page.

Jim Bailey

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