Author: Larry Read

KAMLOOPS, BC—The Nanaimo NightOwls won back to back games on the weekend to take two of three from the host Kamloops NorthPaws in West Coast League action.   In a battle of two teams who missed the WCT post season, Kamloops won the opening night (Fri Aug 4) 7-4 but then lost 4-1 on Saturday (Aug 5) and Sunday afternoon 8-3 to Nanaimo.

The NightOwls finished the season at 26-28 while the NorthPaws were 12-40.

The teams played on the Dearborn Ford Field at Norbrock Stadium.


Friday, August 4, 2023:NorthPaws 7 NightOwls 4

The NorthPaws snapped a three-game losing streak taking Nanaimo, who trailed 7-0 at one point. Kamloops had a season high two homers in this game.  Robin Villeneuve (Gatineau, QC) hit a two-run shot in the fourth inning. Villeneuve was 2-4 with three runs batted in and a run scored in the contest and has three home runs this summer.

The other homer came off the bat of Matthew McDonald (Kamloops, BC).  He led off the fifth inning with a solo blast.   He was 1-4 with a run scored. Gage Mestas (Durango, CO) was 3-5 with a run scored. Matthew Ward (Mississauga, ON) was 2-4 with a run scored while Drew Giannini (Troy, CA) was 2-5 with a run scored.

Christian Spitz (Overland Park, KS) went six innings for the win. He struck out four, gave up two walks on five hits to improve his record to 2-4. David Jeon (Coppell, TX) pitched the ninth inning for the save. It was his third of the year in 17 appearances. He struck out one.

Night Owls starter Brian Veniard (Jacksonville, Fla) fell to 1-2 on the year. He pitched only three and two thirds’ innings surrendering 10 hits, five runs, striking out seven and walking one.

Caden Casagrande (Earle, ID) led Nanaimo offensively going 1-4 with three RBI. Brandon Hupe (Delta, BC) went 1-3 with two runs scored while Ethan Rivera (Chino Hills, CA) and Liam Bushey (Abbotsford, BC) were both 2-4 with a run scored.

Link to Scoresheet:

Saturday, August 5 2023:NightOwls 4 NorthPaws1

The NightOwls snapped a five-game losing skid with the victory. They broke open a scoreless tie scoring once in the fifth, added another in the sixth and had a single run in both the eighth and ninth.  They had nine hits in the ball game.  The NorthPaws scored their only run in the bottom of the seventh inning when Ward hit his second home run of the season.  They had six hits and committed one error.

Hupe was 2-5 with a run scored for Nanaimo. Bryce Johnson (Bellingham, WA) was 1-2 with a RBI. Brandon Nicholl (Coombs, BC) was 1-4 with a run scored. Elijah Ickles (Wahiawa, HI) was 1-3 with a run scored.

Nathan Buchan (Mercer Island, WA) started his ninth game of the year and was the winner. He evened his record at 3-3 going seven innings. He pitched a five hitter with a run given up, three strikeouts and one walk. MacCallan Conklin pitched the last inning for his second save in three starts. He struck out two and walked two.

Liam Reynolds (Trumansburg, NY) fell to 0-3.  He started and went five innings, giving up a run, four hits, struck out five and walked six.

Villeneuve was 3-3 at the plate for Kamloops.  Ward  was 1-3  with a run scored and an RBI (thanks to that homer). Anthony Manuel (Antioch, CA) and Ray Jesse (Oak Lawn, IL) were both 1-4.

Link to Scoresheet:

Sunday, August 6 2023:NightOwls 8 NorthPaws 3

The NightOwls scored one in the first, two more in the second and third innings to chase MacLain Roberts (Auckland, NZ) off the hit for Kamloops.   Roberts was 2-8 on the year. In this game, he went two and two thirds innings surrendering six hits, five runs, walking three and striking out one.  He started 10 games in his rookie WCL season.  He was one of four pitchers utilized by NorthPaws manager Keith Francis in the contest.

Nanaimo was led offensively by Wylie Waters (West Vancouver, BC).  He was 4-5 with three runs scored and three RBI. He also hit a home run.      Reid Little (Bellingham, WA) also hit a dinger for Nanaimo. He was 1-3 with two RBI and a run scored.  His homer game in the second inning.

For Waters and Little: it was the second home runs of the summer.

Elijah Ickles (Wahiawa, HI) was 2-3 with a run scored as well for the NightOwls.

Matt McDonald (Kamloops, BC) was 1-3 with a run scored and a RBI. He knocked one out of the park in the seventh inning with the NorthPaws down 8-2. Gage Mestas (Durango, CO) was 2-4 with a run scored. Anthony Manuel (Antioch, CA) was 1-2 with a run scored.

Jacob Fleury (Burlington, WA) was the winning pitcher.  He was the third of three pitchers and went three innings tossing a one hitter over that time. He had two strikeouts and two walks.  He was 5-0 on the year and it was his first relief appearance of 2013.

Link to Scoresheet:


On the series: “ I am kind of disappointed the way we played today (Sunday). We didn’t get excited about playing today. Everyone was more focused on going home unfortunately. I understand that. I wished we played a little harder. That was the same story yesterday (Saturday). We had enough horses to get it done but we didn’t.

Admits that timely hitting and pitching depth were downfalls this year for Kamloops.  He credits those players who stuck it out.  “The effort I got from these guys, as bad as its been has been A plus. I know they didn’t give it to me today, but they did it all year long. 


Robin Villeneuve (Gatineau, QC).252 batting average, 3 homers, 6 doubles in 32 games

On season: “ It was a pretty tough summer. I came late and it took me a while to get going, but the last few games I started to put it around. It is hard to have a good chemistry when you don’t win but there were a lot of great guys on this team.

Cooper Neville (Glendale, AZ): .273 batting average, 183 at bats in 52 games, 22 RBI

On the year:  “ I don’t think we had the best odds of winning. We needed to have more guys coming in and our pitching could have been better. We should have had more pitchers at the end instead of losing them all at the same time. I think our hitters could have done a much better job (me included). I don’t know what happened. We just couldn’t get it all together at the same time.”

Nathan Grey (Queen Creek, AZ) 0-1 record 9 games as a pitcher, four starts, 1.71 ERA/.137 Batting average in 31 games. 95 at bats.

On adjusting to the West Coast League after making the jump from high school : “On the mound, it was an easy transition. I just felt comfortable out there. I know my stuff and I know what I could do. At the plate it was a little different, going from high school pitching to college pitching: it’s a little faster.  I am making adjustments to that and should be ready for the fall (going to Puma Community College in Arizona).”