The SMBA Same Day Auto Minor Bantam Nationals
tier 1 rep team hosted the Ontario Baseball
Association B Championships this past weekend and a thrilling walk off finish
late Sunday afternoon crowned the hosts champions for the 2017 and 100th
The Nats found themselves with a perfect 4-0 record entering the final against the Tecumseh Rangers knowing they had a loss to play with going into the Championship round. In a game they never led the Nats refused to go away and as was the case all weekend the sixth inning was magical for this group of boys, the home side scoring three times to tie the game at 4-4. The heart of the Nats order again tied this game up with Caleb Musselman, Jack Whitehead, Carter Musselman and Michael Pauli putting together hits to even things up for the Nats. Some fine late inning defensive play from centre fielder Caleb Musselman, second baseman Tyler Hotson and short stop Nathan Graff made sure this one was going to extra innings. After the Rangers scored on a suicide squeeze in the top of the eigth the stage was set for more Nats heroics in the bottom of the eigth. Cam Daigle reached on a Ranger error to start the inning and after Caleb Musselman reached base three hole hitter and eventual tournament MVP Whitehead strolled to the plate, his calm demeanor serving as a suggestion of what was to come. Whitehead promptly smoked a pitch to straight away centrefield easily soaring over the Ranger centrefielder scoring both runners and walking off a provincial championship win for this fine group of kids. Carter Musselman and Carter Stock combined to allow just 2 earned runs in the final on six hits while striking out six. Graff and Naoto Fujita also had base hits for the champs.
The Nats started things off Friday with a 5-2 win over Welland highlighted by a towering Whitehead solo shot over the silver monster in right field at National Stadium in the sixth inning. Daigle threw a complete game five hitter, allowing two earned runs and striking out four while Fujita, Caleb Musselman, David Hynd and Hotson added hits for Stratford.
In game two a sixth inning RBI by Graff plated the winning run in a 4-3 win over Leamington. Whitehead and Carter Musselman also had big sixth inning hits for the winners as the Nats came back from two down to squeeze out the victory. A gutsy four plus inning relief appearance by lefty Erik Smith in relief of Fujita allowed the Nats to stay close in this one before the rally in the sixth.
Game three featured the undefeated game between the Nats and Tecumseh. Outstanding pitching by both the Rangers and the Nats Carter Musselman and Stock had this one 1-0 Tecumseh before the Nats again rallied in the sixth inning. A misplayed two out Pauli pop up plated James Koch with the tying run. Later in the inning Whitehead again provided the big blow with a two run triple and eventually the Nats lead grew to 4-1 and that held up to be the final. Caleb Musselman, Carter Musselman, Hynd and Daigle also had hits for the winners.
Sunday morning with a two life berth in the final on the line the Nats again refused to go away and twice had big comebacks against the LaSalle Titans eventually winning 10-9. Stock and Daigle gutted out a great pitching performance against a strong hitting LaSalle lineup and all 12 players on the National roster contributed one way or another to this victory with Caleb Musselman, Whitehead, Carter Musselman, Daigle and Pauli contributing late inning hits to secure the runs needed to pull out this victory.
This group of 12 refused to roll over all weekend as evidenced by the sixth inning comeback in four of the five victories needed to secure the provincial championship. A job well done by a great group of kids.