7th Inning Stretch: Matt Wilkinson

He was a star at the Little League World Series several years ago and an effective pitcher as one of the youngest players in the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) this summer.

So, it’s not surprising that Matt Wilkinson has been selected to take part in the Tournament 12 (T12) annual showcase tournament, which is taking place at Rogers Centre in Toronto from Sept. 17-21.

The 16-year-old lefty from Ladner, British Columbia appeared in four games – two of them starts – for the Okotoks Dawgs summer collegiate squad in their 2019 championship season. During his 18 innings on the bump, Wilkinson posted a 1-1 record with 23 strikeouts and a 3.00 earned run average (ERA). He also pitched in the WCBL playoffs, throwing 5.1 innings of shutout baseball during a relief appearance against the Lethbridge Bulls.

We caught up with the Dawgs Academy pupil and asked him seven questions as part of our 7th Inning Stretch series. Here’s what Wilkinson had to say about his inclusion in the T12, among other things:

1. What are your goals and expectations for the T12 tournament?

My goals are just to be myself and do what I can do. My expectations are the same as if I’m standing on the mound in a Dawgs uniform.

2. There are a lot of Dawgs Academy players attending T12 this year. What is it like having so many familiar faces there and how has your experience at the academy been so far?

It just shows how good the Dawgs Academy actually is. It’s great to train with such an amazing group of guys and I think it pushes all of us to be better.

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Matt Wilkinson (right) smiles during his WCBL debut against the Fort McMurray Giants on June 2, 2019. He pitched seven shutout innings and struck out eight batters during his first win for the Okotoks Dawgs … photo by Ian Wilson

The academy has been huge for me. Every single coach on the staff has made me a better baseball player and a better person.

3. Let’s talk about your time in the WCBL. You had a great debut to start the season and you also had a good showing in a losing effort against Lethbridge in the playoffs. What did you learn about yourself this summer?

I believe I really learned how to pitch at the college level. Playing at the high school level against certain teams, my fastball is good enough to get people out, but at the collegiate level I really have to use all four of my pitches.

4. Who has had the biggest influence on you as a baseball player and why?

The biggest influence on me was my dad. He always pushed me to be better and I can’t thank him enough, but I still have a tonne of work to do.

My family has always been a huge baseball family and it’s helped me out a lot.

5. What is the best baseball advice you’ve received?

The best baseball advice I’ve received is from one of my good friends from Seattle. He always tell me “PTW” – that means “prove them wrong.” I believe it has helped me be who I am today.

6. What is your favourite baseball memory so far?

My favourite baseball memory has to be the Little League World Series. It was an awesome experience as a 12-year-old, and hopefully I can play on a stage like that again.

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Wilkinson (right) shakes hands with catcher Gavin Logan (left) at Seaman Stadium in Okotoks … photo by Ian Wilson

7. Fill in the blank. When I’m not at the ballpark, I love to _____________

When I’m not at the ballpark, I love to hang around my buddies and just relax.

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