Two claps and a Rick Flair for the 15U Nats
after a 4-0-1 record that earned them gold in LaSalle this past weekend.
The boys’ participation in their first AA
tourney of the season began Friday evening, with a nail biter against LaSalle
Titans’ Gold team. Stratford found themselves on the wrong end of a 4-0 lead at
the end of the first, as the hard-hitting Titans came out swinging against
pitcher Cam Knechtel. But the Nationals’ defence regrouped quickly, not
allowing any further runs for several innings.
Meanwhile, the offence kicked into gear in
the top of three, loading up the bases with a double by Owen Hunt and walks
from Caden Diehl and Cooper Yantzi. With two out, Rowan Bartlett was hit by a
pitch and Hunt scored. Alex Everett then smashed a line drive single to centre
field, scoring Diehl and Yantzi. With runners on first and third, Reed Bowles
walked, loading the bases up again. But the team could not cash them in, and
the third came to a close with the boys still behind 4-3.
Pitcher Reed Bowles made quick work of the
Titans in the third and fourth, only seeing eight batters, total. The top of
five produced additional scoring for the Nats, as the bases were loaded up
again after Diehl was hit by a pitch, Yantzi singled with a centre-field fly, and
Nolan Miller walked. Bartlett cashed in a couple on a line-drive single, and
advanced safely to second after Miller was stopped on his way to third. Everett
hit a sac fly to score Bartlett before their fifth at-bat ended, with the
Nationals finally up on LaSalle, 6-4.
The Titans got one back in the bottom of
five, closing the gap to just one run. But the Stratford boys were not daunted.
Knechtel hit a single, advancing to second on a fielding error. Then the
lightning-fast Ty Strickland pinch-ran for Knechtel to see if they could score
that run on the next play. Sure enough, Diehl singled on a line drive to centre
field and Strickland made it home safely. That was the end of scoring for
Stratford’s sixth inning, so with a two-run advantage, the defence took to the
field to try to shut down the Titans, as a time limited end of play was
looming. LaSalle was able to score one additional run, but couldn’t overcome
the Nats. Final score: 7-6 Nationals
Saturday action began with a game against
the Milton Mets who won the coin toss, sending the Nationals to an unproductive
first at-bat, as the game got underway. With Logan MacMillan on the mound, the
Mets came out swinging and managed to score one before MacMillan and the
defence shut them down. After a couple of early walks from Knechtel and Colton
Brenzil in the second, MacMillan singled on a pop fly. A throwing error allowed
Knechtel to round the base and try to score, but he was called out. However,
Brenzil was able to score on an additional error at home plate, evening the
score at 1-1 before the Mets got their second at-bat, this one unproductive as
Stratford’s defence and pitcher Strickland shut them down.
The third inning saw no scoring from either
team, but Stratford’s offence came alive again in the top of four when a single
by Ethan Priestap drove in Tucker Otto, who singled to start the inning.
Another single by Strickland allowed Everett to cross the plate, and the boys
were riding a wave of momentum. Diehl also singled before the top of the inning
ended, which scored Priestap, bringing the score to 4-1 before Stratford’s
defence took to the field again, allowing one run for their opponents to make
it 4-2 at the end of four.
With two out and Otto on second in the
fifth, Everett singled on a hard-hit line drive to left field, scoring Otto on
the throw and allowing Everett to advance to second. Everett would advance to
third on a wild pitch, but would remain stranded at the end of the at-bat. With
two out and a runner on third, the Mets were able to score a run on a hard-hit
single before the fifth inning ended with a score of 5-3 for the good guys.
The top of six would yield no additional
runs for Stratford, and with time running out and fresh pitcher Everett on the
mound, they took to the field once more to try to protect their two-run lead.
However, some strong base running and a string of singles allowed the Mets to
score two more before the Nationals could end the inning and the game. The game
was ended and tie score preserved by a monster throw from Strickland in left
field to catcher Otto to keep the runner from scoring what would have been the
game-winning run for Milton. Final
the game, Coach Everett was serenaded by the team during their post-game talk
in celebration of his 5Xth birthday. :)
In Stratford’s third and final game of
round-robin play on Saturday afternoon, they met the Grimsby Coyotes.
Fortunately, the Nats won the coin toss, earning them home-field advantage.
Pitcher MacMillan made quick work of the Coyotes’ offence, seeing only 11
batters over the first three innings. However, it took a couple innings for the
Nationals’ offence to get fired up as well, finally scoring a handful of runs
in the third.
After the bases were loaded up with a Diehl
walk, a Hunt single, and Miller getting hit by a pitch, Bartlett grounded one
to the number six position to score Diehl, while a fielder’s choice throw to
second sent Miller to the bench. The not-to-be-underestimated Priestap hit a
deep fly to centre field, earning him a double, and scoring Hunt and Bartlett.
A wild pitch allowed Priestap to advance to third and eventually make it home
before the inning ended with Stratford ahead 4-0.
In the top of the fourth, with MacMillan
still on the mound, the Stratford defence allowed a couple runs before retiring
the side. In the bottom of the inning, Brenzil singled on a ground ball to
second and then MacMillan followed with a huge fly-ball triple to centre field,
which scored Brenzil. A couple batters later, Diehl singled to short, and the
quick-footed MacMillan scored as well. With two out, Miller stepped up and hit
a line-drive double to left field which brought the gazelle-like Diehl home
easily, wrapping up scoring for the inning.
Up five runs heading into the fifth inning,
Bartlett took the mound. The Coyotes came out swinging, scoring three more runs
before their at-bat was done. The bottom of five and top of six were
unproductive, as Bartlett and the Nats’ defence sat the Coyotes’ batters down
in order. In the bottom of the sixth, with Brenzil and Otto on base and the
1:50 time limit once again a factor, Diehl grounded one to short and scored
Brenzil, which would wrap up scoring for the inning and game. Final score: 8-5 Nationals – Stratford
Advances to Semi-Finals
this point, the parents thought the boys deserved two claps and a Rick Flair
for their excellent round-robin play.
Stratford’s superior scoring in round-robin
play earned them home-field advantage for the semi-final against the Halton
Hills Eagles. Pitcher Diehl and his defence saw only six batters in the first
two innings. Stratford’s offence was quiet in the first, but got going in the
second. After MacMillan and Knechtel hit singles, Yantzi also singled on a
pop-up to centre and MacMillan scored. Knechtel however had to tag up and was
thrown out at second. With Otto up, Yantzi stole second, getting into scoring
position. Sure enough, Otto hit a fly-ball double to centre, scoring Yantzi.
After Diehl was hit by a pitch, Brenzil doubled on a line drive to centre
field, scoring both Otto and Diehl before the inning ended with Stratford up
Pitcher Diehl was back on the mound in the
third and the defence only saw four batters to get three outs. The second and
third outs were wrapped up nicely in a double play when the fourth batter
grounded to Diehl who initiated a 1-4-3 double play to finish the at-bat. In the top of the
fourth, the Nats got a couple outs with no damage. The second out was thanks to
a stellar catch from Yantzi in centre field. The third out was a bit harder
won, and the team allowed a run for the Eagles before they regrouped and shut
them down. The bottom of the fourth and top of the fifth produced no runs. In
the bottom of five with two out, Miller singled on a hard ground ball to right
and then stole second during Bartlett’s at bat. Then Bartlett doubled on a fly
ball to left, allowing the stealthy Miller to get home, padding the Nationals’
lead before the inning ended.
The sixth inning was just getting underway
when the rain intensified and play was called. After 10-15 minutes of hard
rain, the grounds crew and convenors called the game. So, Stratford advanced to the final after a 5-1 win over Halton Hills.
After an hour to rest and refuel, the boys
warmed up to once again face Milton, this time for all the marbles. After the
coin toss went their way, the Nats once again had home-field advantage, so took
to the field to start the game. Lunch must’ve been weighing heavy in the boys’
stomachs, as pitcher Hunt and the defence allowed four runs before closing out
the top of the first. Our offence couldn’t get things started in the first, but
the defence came back out and shut Milton down in the second. Then the offence
came back out and got down to business.
After Otto and Hunt singles landed them on
second and first, respectively, Yantzi singled on a pop fly to right, allowing
juggernaut Otto to score while Hunt advanced to second. After walks for
Knechtel and Strickland, Hunt scored and the bases were loaded. Then Brenzil
hit a fantastic fly-ball double to centre, scoring Yantzi, Knechtel, and
Strickland, giving them a 5-4 lead when the inning ended one out later.
Hunt and the Nationals’ defence held Milton
through the next two innings, with no scoring for either team until the fifth.
A couple singles and some aggressive base running on Milton’s part allowed them
to even the score before the Stratford offence responded in the bottom of five.
After being hit by a pitch, Miller stole second on Everett’s at-bat, and then
advanced to third when Everett grounded out to first. Bartlett then drove the
run in but got thrown out at first. After one more out, the Nats headed into
the top of the sixth, ahead by one run. However, that lead was temporarily
taken away by Milton in the sixth as Stratford pitcher Everett and the defence
saw only four of their batters but allowed one across the plate.
Determined to break the tie in their
favour, the Nationals rallied back again in the bottom of six. Otto singled and
Hunt walked to load up second and first. Then Diehl hit a wee sac grounder to
the pitcher and was thrown out at first, advancing both Otto and Hunt. After
Bowles was hit by a pitch, the bases were fully loaded. MacMillan grounded into
a convoluted double play that allowed two runners across home plate before the third
out was finally made.
Up 8-6, the Nationals just had to hold the
Eagles in the top of seven for the win. And while Everett saw five batters, he
and the defence ensured none got close to home. The highlight of the final
three outs was an exceptional pop-out foul catch close to the Milton bench by
catcher Nolan Miller. Ultimately, Stratford retained their lead to win the game
and the tournament.
thanks to team sponsor Brame Electric for your continued support this year!