Tillsonburg Burns Demeyere Major Peewees beat the host team, Dorchester, in back-to-back games on Labour Day weekend, then knocked off a powerhouse Paris team Sunday to win the OBA C crown.
“We always figured we could do it,” said Burns Demeyere Otters coach Pete Wiebe.
Playing in the London DBA league playoff tournament a week earlier, however, they weren’t so sure.
“We played horrible that weekend,” Wiebe smiled. “We were two games and out. We played West London, were up 8-0, and lost 9-8. Then Dorchester mercied us in five. We just came out flat.”
During the week, the major peewee Otters practiced hard, said Wiebe, and focused on all the things they figured they were not doing right.
“We came out Friday against Belle River and played really well. It was a really tight ball game – probably the tightest game all weekend.”
Game 1 (Aug. 30)
Tillsonburg 6, Belle River 5
Belle River put up three runs in the top the first. Tillsonburg’s leadoff hitter Alex Fishback started the bottom half of the first with his first-ever over the fence homerun that got our team fired up.
It was 5-2 for Belle River after five complete innings. Tillsonburg scored two in the 6th, but trailed by one in going into their final at-bat.
Zack Gazendam lead off the 7th with a walk, Tanner Gaitens reached on error, both players advanced on a wild pitch putting runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs. Belle River intentionally waked Keenan Corderre to load the bases. Cam Wiebe was up next, who happen to be a good bunter, and Zack the runner on 3rd was fast.
“So I put on the suicide squeeze,” said coach Wiebe.
Cam placed a perfect bunt down the first baseline while Zack easily made it home to tie the game with no play at any base… bases still loaded.
“After we did the suicide squeeze, you could tell their whole team was flustered.”
Justin Arnold walked on four straight pitches to win the game 6-5.
Tyler Nancekivell pitched four strong innings only giving up two earned runs with eight strikeouts and walking one. Keenan Coderre came on in relief going three strong not giving up a run with four strikeouts and one walk.
“I think that game was the turning point for us. It was a big win, everyone was on a high, and everyone rode it all the way through, and played the best baseball they played all year. Everything seemed to go our way.”
Game 2 (Aug. 31)
Tillsonburg 11, Dorchester 1
After the big win from the night before Tillsonburg cruised by Dorchester 11-1 in six innings.
Great pitching by Zack Gazendam going four strong with seven strikeouts, one walk and only giving up one run, Justin Arnold pitched the last two innings with little trouble striking out four.
Game 3 (Aug. 31)
Tillsonburg 10, Paris 8
“We were very conservative with our pitching all weekend,” said coach Wiebe. “You want to use your strongest pitchers Sunday, but you also have to get to Sunday. You have to manage your pitchers, and we had enough pitchers. We managed our pitching pretty good Friday and Saturday. If you don’t have depth…
“We had 7-8 pretty strong pitchers. Even if you have a guy who’s not a ‘hard’ thrower, but a ‘strike’ thrower you can throw him in there.”
Game 4 (Sept. 1)
Tillsonburg 13, Dorchester 6
Strong games by Tyler Nancekivell pitching four innings, only giving up 3 runs. Tanner Gaitens went 3-3 with a walk, and Cam Weston went 3-4.
“We mercied them Sunday morning, and in the London tournament the prior weekend, they had mercied us. I’d definitely say, last weekend, we didn’t look like the same team… all season. Our overall record was 28-8-2 – we won the Simcoe tournament and OBAs.”
Game 5 (Sept. 1)
Tillsonburg 6, Paris 1
“I don’t think there was any sign of us getting tired or worn down. I felt pretty confident going into the Sunday games,” said coach Wiebe. “It’s definitely a positive when you can go home and sleep in your own bed.”
“I’m not sure what their overall record was, but one I did see was 26-0 in league. We had to play them twice.”
Gaitens went five innings striking out 12, walking one. Fishback, in relief, pitched two scoreless innings striking out four. Cam Weston had a 3-3 game and Cam Wiebe 2-3.
“It was a pretty tight game, 3-1 until I think the sixth when we added another three runs.
“The first OBA championship for all these kids,” summed up coach Wiebe. “I told them, ‘it took me till the age of 16 to win it for the first time, and now I’m 35 and this was only my second time involved in winning it. It doesn’t come around every day, that’s for sure.”
The Burns Demeyere Major Peewees will move up as unit to the bantam age group next season, and will switch to Sam Lamb field.