Bantam Rep OBA Wallaceburg (Port Dover Minor Baseball)

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Port Dover Minor Baseball Coastline Realty Major Bantam Rep wins OBA Championship

It’s Friday September 2nd 2011 with temperatures nudging into the 30’s the team is warming up and the parents, friends and family all wait in anticipation. The coaches consisting of Dwight Mcleod (Head Coach), Matt Lamb (Assistant Coach), Jeff Tschirhart (Assistant Coach) and Richard Townsend (Assistant Coach) are consulting – What final words for the team? Have we got the selection right? – Too late now Port Dover faces a local team from Dresden in the first of six games they will play. Chris Dadds (Team Manager) is ensuring the pitch counts for both teams are accurate and complying with tournament and OBA rules. Our batboy Matthew Townsend who has served us well in past tournaments is geared up with iced towels for the players in the heat and ready to retrieve and make ready the bats during the games – all is set for the most important weekend of the season. This is a double knock out tournament so you have to try to win every game; otherwise, one slip up can send you home early. The diamond does not have any perimeter fences so big hits are going to run, with the nearest fence well out toward the convener’s building at left field. The umpires assured coaches that there was no need to worry about ground rule doubles with balls going under the fence as nobody hits that far – hmmm we will see.

Port Dover loses the flip and is up to bat. A big swing at the ball and it is a fly out at shortstop, in comes Garrett Walker who gets a walk. Gavin Barnard up next, a ball, 2 strikes and then a big hit through centre field for a double bringing in Walker. Larry Hopper up next who gets 2 balls and a strike and then a nice base hit toward left field for a single. Josh Townsend to the plate and a base hit to left field brings in Barnard. Up next is Austin Lamb who receives a ball and then hits out toward centre field for a single bringing in Townsend. That is three runs for the first inning and the boys are settling in with confidence high.

Hopper to the mound and a hit to shortstop sees the ball fired down by Barnard to first for an out. The next two batters strike out and that is the end of the inning.

Top of the second and base hit singles by Brent Tschirhart, Walker, Barnard, and Townsend result in another two runs scored.

Hopper is pitching at the bottom of the second and Dresden secure a double toward centre field, which results in a run that was advanced by good stealing and some, sacrifice plays. There was no more damage to Port Dover.

Into the third and runs scored by Dawson Heron and Tschirhart with base hits from Walker and Townsend. The fourth sees no further runs for Port Dover but the fifth is a different story. Base hit singles from Tschirhart, Walker, Barnard, Hopper, Lamb, Colton Mcleod, Logan Stanley, Heron, Nolan Erwin, and Greg Acuna with walks for Townsend and Tanner Van Zon results in 13 runs scored.

Bottom of the fifth and if we hold them, the game will be a mercy. The first batter is a strike out. Second batter hits long and high to left field and Acuna moves quickly into position and makes a great catch. One more to go and the batter hits hard to third base which is scooped up and thrown to first for the third out, giving a final score of Port Dover 21 Dresden 1. Hopper pitched a great game having nine strikeouts and was supported by Lamb to close out the game. That was a nice game to loosen up the boys.

The team is able to take a nights rest before the challenging schedule for Saturday. Three games will be played providing there is no more than one loss. The first game at 10:30am is against a tough team, the hosts Belle River who were adamant that they would be in the final of the tournament. Port Dover met them in the Wallaceburg tournament and only just managed to beat them, so this one would not be easy. Temperatures were up to 35 degrees with a high humidity and wet towels were used on players’ necks to cool down.

The game is about to start and their coach was energizing his players and fans creating an extreme amount of noise, which did not abate throughout the game in particular when Port Dover was pitching. Port Dover wins the flip and is home team.

Barnard to the mound and the first up to bat hits a single. Next up is struck out with a further two outs thrown to first by short stop and second base. Bottom of the first and the bats struggle, but Tschirhart manages a single, however two fly outs and a strikeout means no runs for Port Dover.

Gavin holds Belle River out in the second and third before he is replaced on the mound by Hopper. In the meantime, the bats start to move for Port Dover in the third with base hits from Walker and Hopper resulting in three runs scored.

Larry holds Belle River in the fourth but two runs are scored by Belle River in the fifth bringing the score to Port Dover 3 and Belle River 2. Everybody is on edge and Belle River continues their tirade of noise toward our players building the tension. Bottom of the fifth and Port Dover fail to respond. Into the sixth and good pitching with a great defense holds, Belle River to one run and now the game is tied. Bottom of the sixth and you can see a new determination on the faces of Port Dover who seem to cope a little better with the constant noise from Belle River. A single gets Tschirhart on base and then a magnificent triple by Barnard brings in the run – Port Dover 4 Belle River 3. Into the seventh and the first batter up flies out to first, next batter up gets a single and then there is a strike out. Just one more to go can we hold them. The next batter comes in and has a magnificent hit out to right field, it is high and long, and the wind is swirling the ball around. Stanley backs up, continues to back up, gets under the ball, and makes a magnificent catch – wow what a catch, what a game. Port Dover wins 4-3.

That was a close one and a hard fought battle under considerable duress from Belle River but Port Dover kept their cool and rose above the behaviour of their opposition.

Our next games were scheduled for 3:30pm and as we were on a winning streak, were meeting the best teams in the competition. Our opponents were Listowel a team that was high up in their league and were in with a chance.

Port Dover loses the flip and is up to bat first. Walker and Hopper get on base and up steps Townsend who receives a ball and then two strikes and the coach shouts protect, so he did. The next pitch is seen early and a magnificent swing of the bat sails the ball way out to left field bouncing short of the fence and then rolling into it – Home Run!! which also brings in Hopper. Up steps Van Zon who hits a tremendous triple again out toward the fence bringing in Townsend. I think the Umpires will re-assess their thoughts on the ability to reach that fence. That’s three runs scored.

Walker to the mound bottom of the first. Solid pitching and a great defense hold Listowel – no runs. Into the second and Stanley gets on base and followed in by Tschirhart who receives a ball and two strikes and then lets one loose long and hard getting a magnificent triple. The second sees seven runs scored, by Stanley, Tschirhart, Barnard, Hopper, Townsend, Van Zon, and Lamb.

Port Dover also scores runs in the third by Barnard and Hopper followed by another two runs in the fifth by Lamb and Mcleod.

Superb pitching by Walker and Heron hold Listowel to one run with a final score of Port Dover 14 and Listowel 1.

Port Dover worked well together as a team showing tremendous spirit with a huge defensive and offensive game.

Again, this win meant we were up against the best; our next game was at 8pm against the favourites and top of their league, Macgregor. Port Dover Bantams faced this team in 2010 and were well beaten so the nerves were on edge for this one.

Game time is approaching but so are the rain clouds, will we get this game in? Port Dover wins the flip and is home team and on the mound for Port Dover is Hopper. The coaching staff is maximizing the amount of pitches that they can use having 35 pitches left for Hopper, 34 for Walker and a full 90 for Townsend.

Macgregor is first up to bat and get on base, with good stealing and a base hit get their first run. Port Dover step up in the bottom of the first where Walker promptly hits a double, which sets him up for Barnard who in turn gets a single, and RBI for Walker’s run. The game is tied and then the rain falls to such an extent it floods the diamond ending the play for the night with the game re-scheduled for 11am on Sunday. This hurt Port Dover as all the pitching for Saturday that we had left had now been lost. Larry was not allowed to pitch on Sunday as he had now pitched on two consecutive days, there can be no carry over pitches from a previous day, which puts a huge strain on the remaining pitching resources, so plans needed to be tweaked.

It is now 11am on Sunday morning and the fans are on edge waiting to see how this game will complete

Walker steps onto the mound with an allowance of 90 pitches for the day. He looks confident and reflects this in his performance holding Macgregor to the one run they scored the previous night. Six strikeouts and an excellent defense wrap up the scoring for Macgregor.

The Macgregor pitcher is strong and fast, mixing the pitches well and holds Port Dover through the second and third inning. However, the fourth sees Van Zon and Lamb getting on base with singles and a further single from Mcleod sees another two runs scored bringing the final score of the game Port Dover 3 Macgregor 1.

Well that was a game so close and intense, Macgregor threw everything at us but Port Dover kept their nerve. One more game to win and Port Dover would be unbeaten. The boys are starting not only to look physically tired but mentally also, will they hold it together. The next game, which was due to start at 1pm, was delayed to 1:30pm, thank goodness, as the boys needed a break.

Amhurstburg is the next challenge a team that initially did not show promise in their first game but have been winning games ever since so is this the banana skin for Port Dover?

Port Dover loses the flip and is up to bat first. Tschirhart hits a single and is on base. Aggressive stealing gets him home for the first run. Amhurstburg look confident and fresh where Port Dover look as though they need a rest however they push on, and up to the mound walks Townsend. Amhurstburg’s first up gets on base and aggressive stealing with a base hit gets in the tying run. Port Dover defense remains strong and holds them. Into the second and the bats are being swung but the timing is off and players are flying out. Lamb gets on base with a nice single but no runs scored. The bottom of the second sees Amhurstburg again held. Into the third and still no runs scored for Port Dover, however Amhurstburg get on base and with good coaching choices and clever aggressive stealing get in a further 3 runs. The score at the end of the third is Port Dover 1 and Amhustburg 4. Port Dover heads seem to be down they needed a shake up but you could see they were tired.

A change of pitcher brings in Heron to finish the game. His excellent performance under considerable pressure supported by the Port Dover defense holds Amhurstburg for the remainder of the game all we needed now was our bats to come into play. The fourth again sees Port Dover bats quiet with a single by Lamb but no runs.

Into the fifth and a substitution brings in a call up Peewee Blake Pow to the plate who battles through to get a walk. Next up to bat was Tschirhart who receives a wild pitch, which Pow steals on to second. Tschirhart then gets a single, which drives, in Pow for a run. Walker up to the plate who hits a wonderful double bringing in Tschirhart. Barnard up to bat and another single advances Walker. Hopper gets on base together with Lamb. Mcleod then steps up to the plate and hits a great double scoring Barnard and Hopper. Pow up again, swings and gets a good single batting in Lamb and Mcleod, also managing to score a further run for himself with good stealing and a base hit by Tschirhart. The heads seemed then to lift for Port Dover with comments made after the game “Well I couldn’t leave the little guy out there – we had to bring him in”. A total of 8 runs came from that inning. A further run in the sixth finishes out the game with the final score of Port Dover 10 Amhurstburg 4.

I am glad that game is over I thought they were going to take us at one point but the boys stuck to it and fought their way back into the game. As we say, ‘Never give up, never stop running – you never know what will happen’

Whilst we were playing Amhurstburg, Macgregor were playing Belle River where there were many incidents between players and coaches but MacGregor pulled away to win 9-3 so Port Dover now know who they have to play to win the OBA’s. McGregor have already lost to Port Dover and now have to beat us twice to win the OBA title. So now, we are in a strong position but cannot be complacent.

Game time approaches fast but so does the rain clouds and a sudden burst of prolonged rain flooded the diamond and the game was called to be played the next day Monday Sept 6th at 11am.

Monday Sept 6th arrives and it is 11am. The scene is set, the music is playing and announcers keen to start a festive atmosphere which is dampened by the overcast skies and strong cold northerly winds, it will be a challenge catching the high balls.

Port Dover wanted to win the championship with this game they did not want to play a further game as this one was their 6th game and Macgregor already had the advantage of a bye over the weekend with this game being their 5th .

Port Dover loses the flip and is first up to bat. The pitcher for Macgregor was strong, fast, and accurate. Bats were getting on ball but players were getting out at first not managing to get beyond the 3rd base man. No runs scored. On the mound for Port Dover is Barnard, Macgregor up to bat and get on base but 3 strikeouts put paid to that inning without a run scored. Into the second and Port Dover again struggle with the bat, a base hit by Townsend, but again no runs scored. Macgregor get on base but again another two strikeouts and one caught stealing ends that one without any damage.

The third inning arrives quickly but yet again three up three down with no base hits. Macgregor up in the bottom of the inning sees a well place hit up the 1st base line which is called fair and carries through to foul territory into the right field area, the batter is off and running and runs around first toward 2nd. A magnificent chase by Pow and throw to Tschirhart at cut off, relays the ball to Townsend on second base who gets the batter out, what a play now that’s got them going. No runs for Macgregor. Into the fourth and Hopper gets on base. Lamb gets a base hit and drives in Hopper for the first run of the game. Mcleod to the plate who gets a hold of one and sends a long one out toward left field for a triple however Lamb is gunned out at home plate to end the inning. Macgregor fail to respond so it is into the fifth with Port Dover having a 1-run lead. Hopper is the new pitcher on the mound for Port Dover – no runs scored by either side.

Into the sixth and again Port Dover fail to score. Macgregor up to bat and the first batter is struck out, the second is walked together with the third, and now there was a tying run on third base. The pressure was on but we had to hold them. The next batter attempts the bunt, which is fair, Lamb runs forward and sees the runner coming home who then changes his mind and tries to get back to third. A quick throw from Lamb to third sends Townsend jumping into the air stretching and catching the ball dropping straight down to tag the runner out, wow what a play. Its close and Macgregor appeal, but the umpire is adamant – “He’s out”. Two out and one to go. A further strike out completes the inning and again no damage.

Port Dover up to bat and Hopper gets on base with a nice single. The crowd is willing the bats to get going as Macgregor has last bat, we have to move Hopper. Up steps Townsend, he struggles, a strike, a ball another strike and before we know it there is a full count, he has to protect that plate. The next pitch is seen early and a full swing sends the ball way out into centre field for a double and RBI for Hopper’s run. Next up is Van Zon who on the first pitch sails one out following Townsend’s hit for another double, which brings in Townsend. The score now is Port Dover 3 Macgregor 0. The crowds for both teams are screaming encouragement and the atmosphere is electric. We have to hold them. Up steps Hopper on the mound, a strike, and then a hit to the second baseman who throws the batter out at first – one down and two to go. The next batter is a strike out – one more to go. The last batter, his first ball is a strike and the next is driven toward Hopper who scoops it up and then it was as if it was all in slow motion where he seemed to stop and look at the ball, turn it in his glove, smile and fire it to first – he’s out, that’s the game and the championship. The final score Port Dover 3 Macgregor 0

The Port Dover crowd goes wild, and jump to their feet, men women and children have tears in their eyes as the emotion of the achievement strikes home. The players and the batboy are all out on the diamond celebrating in an explosion of pent up anxiety and anticipation. What a game – what a strong opposition Macgregor put up, this game will stay in the memories for a long long time.

Port Dover the Division ‘C’ Ontario Baseball Association Provincial champions. Go Dover Go!!!

The team numerically: 2 Tanner Van Zon, 4 Brent Tschirhart, 7 Logan Stanley, 8 Greg Acuna, 11 Garrett Walker, 12 Josh Townsend, 13 Gavin Barnard, 14 Dawson Heron, 15 Colton Mcleod, 17 Blake Pow, 24 Larry Hopper, 27 Austin Lamb, and 88 Nolan Erwin