Virden’s Braeden Lewis did all he could to help the Manitoba baseball team at the Western Canada Summer Games.
The son of Tracy and Dale Lewis pitched, pinch hit, pinch ran, and played shortstop, third base, and outfield. His efforts helped Team Manitoba win the silver medals at the prestigious multi-sport event in Swift Current.
“Being called upon to fill these roles is a true testament to how versatile a player Braeden is, which is certainly his biggest strength,” said Glen Hunter, who served as the baseball team’s mission staff.
Team Manitoba head coach Mike Krykewich said that the 16-year-old was a great leader who filled his role well. He praised Lewis’ speed on the base paths and ability as a contact hitter. On the mound, Lewis earned a complete game 12-2 victory over Saskatchewan. In another contest against Manitoba’s western neighbour, Lewis drove in the winning run to lift his team to a 6-5 victory and into the gold medal game.
Team Manitoba fell in the gold medal game to Alberta. The competitive Lewis said:
“It was an honour to be able to participate in the Games, but I would prefer to have won gold.”
Krykewich said that good team chemistry, solid pitching, and timely hitting allowed the squad to succeed in the tournament. Hunter said that getting buy-in from the players – who are all stars on their individual teams - was very important.
“He plays hockey at a very competitive level and fully understand the dynamics of a team sport. … Braeden is also very coachable and will quickly apply anything he is being taught to his game,” Hunter said. “Without question, he is a team first guy and very unselfish.”
The calibre of competition at the Summer Games was high.
“There were some very good baseball players from the other provinces,” Lewis said. “The games were very competitive, but I think our team was a talented group for sure.”
When asked what he enjoyed about the Summer Games, Lewis said competing with his teammates and meeting other athletes. The baseball team bonded with the Manitoba diving squad after Hunter organized a cribbage tournament on the bus ride to Saskatchewan. The baseball team attended diving events with ‘10’ signs, while the other squad reciprocated by bringing ‘K’s to the diamond.
The Western Canada Summer Games helped Lewis become more comfortable with Swift Current. As he has signed a standard player agreement with the Western Hockey League’s Swift Current Broncos, he hopes to be spending a lot of time in the community.
“I attended camp there last year but living in the high school during the Games did help me become more familiar with the school,” he said. “Swift Current is a very nice town.”