If Tillsonburg Minor Baseball had a hall of fame, Tanner Gaitens’ major peewee bat would be on its way.
The Tillsonburg Burns Demeyere Major Peewee hit his first home run of the season Wednesday night off Tillsonburg Minor Otters relief pitcher Jayden King in the sixth inning, a 257-yard shot over the left-field fence to make it 12-3.
“When I was hitting it – it was in the air and I was like, ‘that’s gone.’”
Gaitens came close last year, hitting the Kiwanis Diamond outfield fence, but Wednesday’s homer was his first to clear it.
“That was my goal for many years,” said Gaitens. “Like three years.”
“I’m very impressed – I’d say it’s the best team I’ve every coached,” said Burns Demeyere coach Pete Wiebe, who coached minor ball for years in Aylmer.
“Most of the guys, we’re using as infielders or outfielders, but we want them to be able to play more than one position. Every player on this team is a good ball player. And 11 of the 12 players on the team can pitch.”
Wiebe is utilizing a two-inning pitching rotation for his pitchers, planning to go see everyone twice before making an evaluation.
“Tournaments and the big games, like playoffs, we’re going to go with whoever gives us the best chance to win. We’ve got a tournament in Port Dover this weekend. Some good competition for us, there’s some good teams.”
The Major Otters followed up Wednesday’s LDBA win over their younger Tillsonburg rivals with an 8-5 decision over North London Thursday, also at the Kiwanis Diamond.
Gaitens did it again, hitting another fence-clearing home run on his first at-bat – this time even farther past the left-field fence.
“I’m very impressed with the way he’s playing,” said coach Wiebe. “He plays tough, plays hard. He’s hitting well and he’s a really good pitcher, too.”
Wiebe gave Gaitens a ‘don’t go swinging for the fences’ talk just before the game.
“Told him stay within yourself, be a smart batter. And his first at-bat…”
Gaitens’ patience at the plate came into play in the sixth inning, tied 5-5, with runners at second and third with one out. A sharp single got by the North London shortstop up the middle, scoring two, which turned out to be Burns Demeyere’s game-winner and insurance.
“That was a good hit, that’s staying within yourself,” Wiebe nodded, just as happy to see the clutch game-winning single as the fence-clearing home runs.
Underhill’s Farm Supply
The Underhill’s Farm Supply Minors seemed to settle down Wednesday night after falling behind 6-0 in the first. The next four innings were evenly played.
“We seem to be nervous in the first innings of games,” said Underhill’s coach Derek Partlo. “Once we the first inning, we realize it’s just a ball game and we play some good ball.”
Underhill’s put some runs across in the third and fourth innings, and Burns Demeyere led 8-3 going into the sixth.
Both Tillsonburg peewee teams are playing most of their seasons in the LDBA.
“We’ve only got four Southern Counties games,” said Partlo.
Tournament-wise, Underhill’s is playing in a London Badgers tournament June 7-9.
“There’s some big AAA teams – it’s Vaughan, Richmond Hill… they’re minor teams, but it’ll be good ball.”