Port Dover Clippers Intercounty Junior Champions 2016
Rassaun Steel’s Port Dover Clippers started as rookies in the 2015 season of the Junior Intercounty league and surprised existing teams of their tenacity and talent knocking out Hamilton in the playoffs.
The 2016 season consisted of teams from Kitchener (AAA) Guelph (AAA) Hamilton (AAA) Stratford (AA) and Brantford (A) and the Port Dover Clippers.
The Clippers moved on into the 2016 season with confidence and commitment finishing the season in overall third place behind Kitchener and Guelph having beaten both these teams during the season. But the jewel in the crown was the inter county championship which Garnett Henrich, the head coach. had his sights on.
The first round to be played was against Hamilton who now had a whole new respect for Port Dover. Game 1 was at Port Dover on July 31st. Typically Port Dover wait to the fourth or fifth innings before they get going but then push hard to win 7-3. Their return game was the next day in Hamilton August 1st. and the Clippers went for it with strong bats and a great defence to win by a mercy in the 8th, 10-0. So Hamilton was out, the next team to face was the strong Guelph second in the league team.
August 5th in Guelph Hastings stadium saw a magnificent defensive and offensive game from the Clippers beating Guelph out 5-0, neither their supporters nor team members could understand what happened that night but Port Dover knew they had it in them. Now they had to face a return game in Port Dover on Sunday August 7th. The game lived up to its billing with Guelph coming out of the blocks with huge hits scoring 4 runs in the first innings from 2 home runs. The Port Dover crowd was shocked but surprised even more as the Clippers started to chip away at that lead over the next few innings and finally pushed ahead for a nail biting finish resulting in Port Dover winning the game 8-7 and knocking out the second favourites for the title.
The news then came in that Brantford had knocked out Kitchener and were coming to play us with the first game due on Sunday August 14th. This was a tight tense game but the Clippers pulled through to eventually win 3-1. Scheduling issues then plagued the remaining games and the following weekend was the Junior OBA championship in Port Lambton so a decision was made to complete the playoffs after that tournament.
Well readers will already know the result of that weekend where the Clippers became the Junior A OBA provincial Champions during a rain soaked weekend forcing the Clippers to play 5 back to back 7 innings games with 30 minute rest periods between each game. It was a marathon Sunday but the tenacity and talent of the team brought them through. However, the Intercounty Junior Championship games loomed. The second game in the series was due on Tuesday in Brantford – just a day’s rest for the boys.
As expected a game too far with too little rest. Our team was lack lustred and exhausted both mentally and physically and they lost the game 7-2. Unfortunately the 3rd and last game in the series to decide the championship was the following day in Port Dover. How on earth were they going to pull this off? The management and team got together and committed to win as they did on that marathon Sunday in Port Lambton, but words were not enough there had to be action.
The first four innings were a stalemate with both sides having great defensive innings. As we went into the fifth there was a strange anticipation in the air. Could they do it again? This was the innings that they tended to turn things on. Innings 5 and 6 were the turning points in the game with the Clippers driving in 5 runs and at the same time shutting down and frustration a strong Brantford side. A further 6 runs were scored by Port Dover in the seventh and eighth innings including a magnificent home run by Brett Pond. The score in the ninth off 19 hits was Port Dover 11 and Brantford 3. The Junior Intercounty Championship went to Rassaun Steels Port Dover Clippers watched by a crowd of around 250 spectators a tremendous support for a terrific team
Well done Clippers Junior A OBA provincial Champions and Junior Intercounty Champions for 2016