SIMCOE - Just when you think you've seen it all on a baseball diamond the game comes up with something new.
The play that crowned the Simcoe Giants champions of this past weekend's Bolton Major Midget Tournament falls into that category.
In the bottom of the seventh (and final) inning Simcoe was clinging to a one run lead against the hosts. Bolton had runners on first and second when their batter smacked a line drive to right field. The baserunner on second tried to score and tie the contest but Carter May's throw came home in plenty of time with a jumping snag and tag applied by catcher Brian MacCormack. The runner on first had advanced to second during that time and then decided to get aggressive and try for third. MacCormack alertly gunned him down to give Simcoe a 5-4 win and tournament title.
“It's honest to God the first time I've ever seen a double play like that to end the game, it was crazy,” said Steve Wall, a member of the Giants coaching staff.
“We're like, 'Did that really just happen?'. I turned to (fellow coach) Don (Robinson) and said, 'you've gotta be kidding me, there's no way that just happened'.”
That play wasn't the only memorable moment from the weekend. Simcoe actually dropped their opening contest to Bolton by a score of 9-3 but rebounded to beat Newmarket I 4-2, Newmarket II 19-0 and Peterborough 13-5.
“The boys knew they came out flat in that (first) game and they weren't mentally prepared,” Wall explained. “We made a couple mental errors right off the bat which really puts your team in a hole and sometimes it's hard to dig out of it. After we let in four or five runs they sort of settled down. Bolton got their hits and we didn't ... but Saturday morning we had a brief discussion with everyone and they really seemed to come out ready to fight and ready to battle.”
“The spirits were high, we got some great pitching and it just carried out.”
The turning point may well have come during the 19-0 mercy victory. Wall noted that some players that have struggled to produce offence broke out in a big way.
“It was a big confidence booster for a lot of guys,” he added. “Instead of having four or five guys that were hitting the bottom of the order was contributing just as much.”
Simcoe didn't make things easy on themselves after getting down 3-0 early in the championship contest. Despite another rocky start, they managed to take the lead in the fifth.
“I think together as a team we've all grown,” said Wall. “The players and the coaches have grown and some of the younger players have been struggling with a high level of ball ... I think they found their hearts. Their hearts got bigger and bigger and they realized they are good ball players, they are good athletes and they can do it. They did everything that we asked them to do and dug a little deeper.”
The win comes at a perfect time as the Giants are just weeks away from hosting the Ontario Baseball Association 'B' championship tournament at Memorial Park Aug. 25-27. The victory, they hope, will equal more success during InterCounty Baseball Association Tier I league play.
“That was the first thing the guys talked about – now maybe we can get better results in the league by being more consistent,” Wall said.
Game MVPs were collected by Cole Robinson, Ty Wall, Carter May and Joel Coderre twice (both the semifinal and final).
Minor peewees get major results
By Jacob Robinson, Simcoe Reformer
The Simcoe minor peewee Giants captured top spot in the Simcoe Minor Baseball Association's 'A and under' tournament June 18. Back row from left, Marc Burrow, Chad Leman, Jeff Vandemeer, Dave Blad, Joe Mcginn. Middle row, Mike Leman, Harry Koop, Hendrick Vandemeer, Dylan Courrier, Keidon Mcginn, Kristine Courrier. Front row, Noah Burrow, Blake Butler, Marc Buck, Jordan Clinkemallie, Jonah Blad, Clark Leman, Joe Thwaites. Contributed Photo
The Simcoe minor peewee Giants didn't just beat opponents last weekend, they pounded them into submission.
Hosting 10 teams as part of the Simcoe Minor Baseball Association 'A and under' event at Lions Park, head coach Chad Leman's team registered six straight wins. More than that, each one of those victories came by way of a mercy, including an 18-8 triumph over Chatham in the final.
“Six straight mercies in a tournament is a pretty great accomplishment and they should be proud of that,” Leman said.
“They played some really good baseball that weekend. We've struggled a little bit to start the year but we're starting to get on track and that was a great step forward.”
Their regular season is played under the Inter County Baseball Association's Tier I division, which includes major centres like Kitchener, Guelph, and Cambridge. As of Tuesday Simcoe sat with a mark of 3 wins and 12 losses but one of those victories (over third-seeded Guelph) came following their tournament win. Leman said the entire coaching staff has noticed a change in the group since their weekend triumph.
“You can tell that there's a little bit more of a confidence in the boys that's great to see and they're going to need to maintain a competitive level,” Leman added.
Simcoe will enter the Ontario Baseball Association's 'B' tournament in Halton Hills to end the season. Each time the group takes the field between now and then, said Leman, is done with the provincial tournament in mind.
“From this day on that's our preparation,” he said.
“The ICBA, we use as a training tool to prepare us for a (certain) level of baseball so when we do play against centres that are our size we're that much more advanced. We have a couple kids this year that are first-year rep and it's really accelerated their learning curve.”
The Giants' win over Chatham registered the second tournament title for the Simcoe Minor Baseball Association this year. The mosquito Giants won an 'A and under' event in London earlier this month.
The fields in town will get a break Canada Day weekend but SMBA is set to host a pair of events in July - a major peewee tournament July 7-9 and a joint major/minor mosquito gathering July 21-23.