With the loss of a year due to the pandemic it was an
absolute pleasure to see baseball action for the final weekend tournament
hosted right in our hometown. The JVK Masonry Nationals came into the
final tournament finishing 3rd in regular season with a 14-5-2
The Nationals were undefeated rolling into the Finals that all started with a 14-4 win over Kitchener on the Thursday night opener. Nationals had superb pitching from Parker Glitz, Cole Parish and Jaxon Leppington to seal the win.
The Friday night match up against Guelph was one of the highpoints of the season with a 11-7 win that took an extra inning to close out. It was perfect timing with the boys finally beating 2nd place Guelph this season, but not without its own excitement as Stratford blew a 6-run lead in the bottom of the 7th inning to force extra innings. With runners on 1st and 2nd for the tie-breaking rule, Stratford was able to come up with 4 runs in the 8th with a huge leadoff triple from injured Ethan Bridges that was followed up with an RBI double from Marshall McKay. They were able to close out the bottom of the 8th with 3 strikeouts from Daniel Hovius with runners left on 2nd and 3rd. Special kudos to McKay who threw for 8 consecutive strikeouts to start the game, only being relieved due to pitch count. Bridges, Ashton VanKooten and Ryder Duchesne also threw fantastic in the win against the heavy hitting Royals.
The Saturday afternoon match-up saw the Nationals square off against Waterloo, who seemed to be upsetting teams in the previous 2 nights. The combined pitching duo of Glitz and Parish proved to be too much for the Wolves. Great defensive efforts by Duchesne and Bridges, who each turned double plays to spur on the Nationals. It was a close match until the end with the Nationals edging them out 8-7 to go into the Sunday final undefeated.
Stratford faced Woodstock in the final, who had given Stratford 2 losses over the last half of schedule and finished first in regular season. The Wranglers, needing to win 2 games, came out confident in the first match taking an early 8 – 0 lead with strong hitting and fielding, shutting down Stratford in 6 innings with a 11-2 Stratford defeat.
The Nationals needed to rebound quickly in the second game starting only 15 minutes later. They fell behind 1-0 again early, but it was tied up shortly thereafter with a solo in-the-park homerun by McKay. Woodstock continued to come on strong and put up another 4 runs in the 3rd. Pitcher VanKooten single-handedly shut down the Wranglers in 4th making all 3 outs on his own. Stratford rallied with 6 runs of their own over the next 3 innings with timely hits/walks from Landon Miller, McKay, Hovius, Spencer Otto, Nate Meadows and Cole Parish. Keagan McMahon come up clutch with a solo in-the-park homerun in the top of the 6th to make it 7-7, which was followed by a long double by Bridges and intentional walk to McKay, yet the Nationals couldn’t cash them in going into the final frame.
In the 7th, Woodstock was running short on pitchers however Otto, Meadows and Jaxon Leppington capitalized on this loading the bases with 2 out. Stratford managed the go-ahead run off a bases loaded walk by Duchesne. The next at bat, Wrangler’s centerfielder robbed Parish of a couple RBIs with a fantastic diving catch keeping the game within 1.Woodstock started the bottom of the 7th with a leadoff bunt single followed up by a hit batter leaving runners on 2nd and 3rd with none out. Miller was able to maintain focus on the mound with the next 2 batters squeezing out a strike out and a pop fly to the short stop, not quite deep enough to score the runner on 3rd. With Woodstock’s clean-up batter at the plate, Miller was able to force a high pop fly to left field to seal the victory with the catch from McMahon for the final out.
Congratulations to all the boys on a fantastic season! The Coaching staff made up of Corey Bridges, Brian Glitz, Luke VanKooten and John Parish are extremely proud of all your efforts and especially for the sportsmanship you have displayed on and off the field. Looking forward to next year.