Badgers win OBA midget title

 * After falling behind 5-0 in the first to the Tecumseh Thunder, the London Badgers scored five in the fourth and two more in the seventh on the way to win the OBA midget championships at Greg Cranker Field in Mississauga. ....  2014 Canadians in the Minors … Canadians in College 2015 Canadian draft list Letters of Intent

By Bob Elliott

It started like it was going to be a boat race.

One team had the twin outboard Evinrude ETEC motors.

The other had a war canoe ... and not everyone was rowing in unison.

The first five Tecumseh Thunder hitters that came to the plate in the bottom of the first made it around the bases, reaching the first base dugout to high-fives at Greg Cranker Field in Mississauga.

All scored ... a 5-0 start against the London Badgers in the midget OBA championship final .

The Badgers had won the Ontario midget eliminations and been to the nationals.

After competing against national powerhouses like British Columbia, Quebec and Alberta some teams don’t even go to the OBAs.

But that’s not the Badger way under Mike Lumley.

So while Lumley was in London coaching the host Badgers, along with Marty Salliss, Jeff Keays and David Ramsdale at the peewee nationals in Stronach Park, coaches Bob Lofgren and Cam Smith were running the show in Mississauga.

The peewee Badgers beat Quebec 10-6, Saskatchewan 10-1, Alberta 13-2, lost 7-0 British Columbia and beat Alberta 6-2 to win the bronze at Stronach Park, yet the third base dugout at Cranker Field looked like the Blue Jays dugout at the Rogers Centre ... on most nights this month.

Lofgren and Smith went to lefty Alex Imeson replacing starter Noah Smith after Tecumseh started from the blocks as Liam Ryan reached on an error, Alex Seguin singled, Mitchell Sobocan singled in a run, Ari Sechopoulos walked, Matthew Broderick hit a two-run single, after a walk to Bobby Galli, Shane Merrit walked with the bases loaded and the Thunder was clapping.

And it stayed 5-0 until the fourth when the Badgers rallied. It all began innocently enough like a lot of rallies when Scott Hutter walked against Michael Beale. 

Jacob Mansfield, Zach Desa and Troy Lofgren all singled. After Quinn McEwan reached, Matt Bowden hit a scoring fly ball to even the score.

The bottom third of the Badgers lineup decided matters in the top of the seventh as McEwan, the No. 7 hitter, led off with a single to centre and Andrew Fletcher singled. An error allowed another run to score.

Tecumseh’s Justin Drouillard led off the bottom of the seventh with a single. One batter later Galli singled in a run to make it a one-run game.

Travis Keys struck out the next man, then induced a pop up to first baseman Fletcher and cue the dog pile to the right of the mound.

Convenor Aaron Thompson, quickly gaining the reputation as the top Thompson-named convenor in COBA, proceeded over the trophy presentations and didn’t drop one trophy or medal.

The Badgers opened with a 2-0 win over the Oakville A’s, lost 9-8 to Tecumseh to fall to the loser’s bracket. Then the Badgers thumped the Mississauga North Tigers 14-3, West Toronto 10-2, and Clarington 4-1 to emerge as the last team standing against unbeatn Tecumseh.

The Badgers beat Tecumseh 12-4 to force the final and deciding game.

Tecumseh opened with a 2-0 win over the Hamilton Cardinals, then beat the Badgers 9-8, edged West Toronto 4-3, Clarlington 12-4 and East York 6-2 as Sechopoulos homered in three straight games against Clarington, East York and the Badgers.

At the 17-team midget eliminations the Badgers opened with a 6-5 win over Tecumseh, then blanked Markham 7-0 and lost 4-3 to Clarington. Next came a 3-2 win against Sarnia and an 8-2 win against Clarington. Then, in the final London beat Brampton 11-2 to win the right to go to the nationals at Magog, Que.

The Badgers lost the opener 14-1 to Quebec and then 5-4 to Alberta, before losing 5-2 to the host Magog team. London then beat Saskatchewan 7-3 in round-robin play. Next London knocked off Manitoba 16-0 to win the fifth-place game.

The Badgers have won seven Baseball Canada medals at the midget level: four gold (2001, 2009, 2011 and 2013) and three bronze (2004, 2010 and 2012.)