The Industrial Hydraulics and Machines Minor Bantams are ICBA Champions!, News, Minor Bantam (14U), 2019 (Stratford Minor Baseball Association)

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The Industrial Hydraulics and Machines Minor Bantams are ICBA Champions!
Submitted By Dale on Sunday, August 18, 2019
The top seeded Stratford Nationals Industrial Hydraulics and Machines Minor Bantams participated in their ICBA league tournament this past weekend in Guelph.

The Minor Bantams opened against the #4 seed Kitchener Panthers.  The Panthers, whom had been showing improvement in play all year, did strike first getting 2 runs across the plate in the start of the first.  Drew Tessmer, who started on the mound for Stratford though pitched with control and would not allow them to get a significant rally started.

The Nationals answered in a very big way in the bottom of the second batting through the order en-route to 8 runs, capped by an in-the-park home run by Kaden Brame.

After 3 and 2/3 solid innings by Tessmer, Luke Zorgdrager took over in relief, returning to action after a month on the DL.  The Nationals defence made some big plays on the night including catcher Karson Stokke throwing out a couple of Panthers base runners on attempted steals at both second and third, and with the Nationals turning double plays in both the 5th and 6th innings.  Tessmer factored in on both double plays.   The Nationals bats continued to stay hot, scoring another 3 runs in the 5th.  With the Nationals up 11-5 after 5 innings, another rally ensued in the bottom of 6th. Patience by the Nationals bats led to 5 walks that inning alone and when up 14-5 and only needing one more run to get the mercy win, Sam Jeffrey came through with a nice walk off double to left field to give the Nationals a 16-5 win.  The 16 runs were a result of 7 hits and 12 walks.  Cody Burdett had 3 of those walks and was able to score on each of them.

On Saturday, after multiple rain delays, the Nationals finally were able to get their second round game going against the #2 seed Cambridge Cubs.  This time it was the Nationals who would get the quick start scoring 3 runs in the first inning.  They started where they finished off the day before, with 3 walks in the first 4 batters followed by a double by Stokke cashing in for an early lead.  Jake Heinbuch was on the mound and was as strong as always allowing no runs and only 1 hit over 3 and 2/3 innings.  Heinbuch found the strike zone early and often with 46 of his 64 pitches being strikes.  One lefty handed off the ball to another in relief and Brame was also able to get timely outs including a number of great pick offs at first, that even the Cambridge coaches couldn’t help but comment on every time a runner got on base.

Two more runs came in the fourth when the first two batters Garrett Spahiu and Max Luk got on base, followed by RBIs by each of Liam Parsons and Jeffrey.  Another two runs crossed in the 5th highlighted by a sacrifice bunt by Brame and an RBI for Luk when hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Another insurance run came in the sixth inning when Jeffrey who hit a double to the gap, scored on a hard hit ball down the first base line by Zorgdrager.

Defensive plays were also a part of the win highlighted by Cole Meadows at second making key outs on ground balls hit sharply up the middle in both the 6th and 7th innings.  He used his speed to track down the balls and made the throws on target to record the outs.

The Nationals took this one by a final score of 8-2, advancing directly to the Sunday morning finals.

The finals would be a rematch with the Cambridge Cubs as they defeated the Guelph Royals in a must win game later Saturday evening.

Having totally baffled the Cubs from the mound the day before, Heinbuch was given the ball again.  Heinbuch’s control, power and timely curve balls were as good as ever and the Cubs could not score a run in the first inning, knowing they needed to try to rattle the Nationals early.  The Nationals on the other hand had 6 of their first 7 batters cross the plate to get a very early 6-0 lead.  The Nationals tacked on another run in the second and just when Cambridge thought they had something to perhaps build on, when they scored one run in the third, the Nationals responded with 3 more runs of their own in the bottom half of that inning.  The Nationals cruised on to a 12-2 win in 5 innings.   Jeffrey had another triple on the day and Spahiu went 3 for 3, including 2 doubles.  The final run came when Matthew Witschi who got on base with a walk earlier in the inning, took advantage of a passed ball allowing him to travel that last important 90 feet, and give the Nationals the 10 run margin needed for an early victory.

The Stratford Nationals Industrial Hydraulics and Machines Minor Bantams proved all weekend what a great team they are and absolutely played up to their ranking as the #1 seed, which they earned through their successful regular season.  All 12 players made key contributions in the weekend at just the right times to help secure this ICBA Minor Bantam Championship in their division.  With this league title in hand the Nationals will enjoy this win but will also continue to prep for their upcoming OBAs in Northumberland.

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