St Thomas Tournament CHAMPS!, News, Rookie, 2014, Comp (Oakridge Baseball)

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St Thomas Tournament CHAMPS!
Submitted By Lukas Richardson 2.3 (2021) on Monday, June 2, 2014
Congratulations to our boys on winning their first tournament of the season in dramatic fashion.

The team showed they had the fortitude, grit, and determination to get the job done when the chips were down.  Considering we were heading into the tournament with only one regular season game under our belt, the coaches were very impressed with how the team came together as we went deeper into the event.

We opened the tournament Friday evening vs a very feisty Newmarket team.  Our bats came to our rescue in game 1, as we managed to hold on for a 25-21 victory.  We took what we learned from this game as we moved into the remainder of the weekend.

Game 2 Saturday morning pitted us against a grumpy Walker Homesites team.  Coach Korey’s strategy of mixing up the player numbers on the line-up sheet seemed to fuel the fire.  We played “Tincaps D” this game, and managed to walk away with a late inning 23-13 mercy.

With our tournament grouping opponents all beating up on each other, it opened the door for our Game 3 opponent, Cambridge, to have an opportunity to knock us from the tournament provided the beat us in our final round robin match.  Again our boys came to play, and after a tumultuous first couple of innings, we settled down and rolled to an 18-7 victory behind some stellar outfield defense.

This put our boys into the semi Sunday morning against an old foe, Ajax, who had attended our Stark tournament the previous year.  Again we brought our bats to the game, and combined it with some stellar defense.  It was a well-rounded effort, leading to a 14-6 victory, and a berth in the tourney final!

The final game of the tournament would prove to be one of epic proportions.  The Major Rookie Tincaps were pitted against a powerful hitting Milton squad.  After winning the coin toss for home field advantage, the Milton team surprisingly deferred, giving our Tincaps this much-welcomed home field advantage, which proved to be the difference.

We started the game strong, with our defense putting up a 3-up 3-down first inning.  Our offense then responded with a 7-spot in the bottom of the first.  Milton then put up three of their own in the second, and we countered with two more in the bottom of the inning.  But then our offense stalled for three innings, and Milton clawed their way back into the game. 

With the game tied 9-9 heading into the bottom of the 6th, our offense reignited for 4 runs, and a 13-9 lead after 6.  If the Tincaps D could hold, the Championship would be ours!  But Milton wasn’t going to make it easy.  Their bats came to life in the top of the 7th.  With the bases loaded and two outs, the Milton #3 hitter CRUSHED a ball to straight away centrefield.  Our boys ran a text-book double-cut, hosing the batter at the plate with a spectacular relay from Lukas to Cooper, who applied the swipe tag for the final out of the inning.  After the dust settled, we were headed into the bottom of the 7th trailing by one run.

The bottom of the 7th didn’t start as expected, as our first two batters were retired, leaving us down to our final out with nobody on base.  But our Tincaps didn’t crack.  Issac bombed a rocket to centrefield, but was sent back to third base by the umpires with a questionable ‘time’ call after he had already scored (what we thought was) the tying run.  This left it in the hands of Hollywood.  Coach Korey couldn’t bear the pressure of watching this at-bat.  Hollywood managed to pound a hot-shot up the middle to score the tying run to keep the game alive!  After a couple of more infield singles, the bases were loaded with a chance to end it style…..but the drama Gods wanted more, and allowed Milton to get the final out and send the game into extra innings.

The top of the 8th inning didn’t start as we’d have liked, as the Milton lead-off hitter belted a stand up triple.  He then scored on a single by the next batter.  It was time to tighten the D, and that is exactly what happened.  After an over the head pop-up catch by Blueberry at third, the next batter hit a rope to left field that was caught by a well-positioned and running Nate Bennett.  Thank goodness for a well-documented spray chart!  The final batter of the inning popped out to Hollywood at short, and then it was our turn with the sticks.

After our first hitter was retired to start the bottom of the 8th, Blueberry got on base with a single.  It was then up to Nate to have a QAB and do what was necessary to made hard contact….and he certainly came through!  Nate hit a bomb to left centre that split the outfielders, easily scoring Blueberry from first, with Coach Korey blowing a rotator cuff at third base giving Nate the green light for home.  Nate didn’t hesitate as he rounded the bag at third, and slid into home without a play to 12 elated, emotional, and cheering teammates for the walk-off victory!

This weekend’s tournament was an outstanding learning and growth experience for both the players and the coaches.  Our boys showed unrivaled resilience in some unsettling times, which will serve us well not only the remainder of the season, but the remainder of the boys baseball careers.

The coaching staff would also like to stress that this weekend was a complete team effort.  Every player from top to bottom contributed to this championship.  I could go through every players individual contributions one-by-one, but then this article would be even longer than it already is!

Thank you to our scorekeeper, Troy Martin for his hard work in tracking our QAB’s, and staying out of fights.  I understand how much work is involved in both of these tasks!  The scorebook is a key tool for the coaching staff and he does a great job with this.

And finally, thanks to the parents.  Without your support and patience throughout the weekend (not to mention the extended practices Steve made me run leading up to this event), none of this would be possible.

See you at the diamond! 

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