OSHAWA LEGIONAIRES 15-U ELITE ARE 2018 EBLO TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONS!
The third annual Baseball Ontario Elite Division Tournament featured many of the top 15-U teams in the Province.
The 24-team field was divided into six divisions, with the top team in each division plus wildcards advancing to the quarter-finals. Based on the draw, Oshawa was placed into a very tough pool along with Hamilton, Kitchener and Oakville who are all considered among the top teams in the EBLO at this age group.
In the inaugural game of the tournament versus the Kitchener Panthers, Oshawa came flying out of the gate with the team pounding out 13 hits behind an extremely strong effort by Brandon Smith on the mound enroute to 14-3 victory.
Early the next morning, Oshawa faced Oakville in a match of two extremely talented and well coached teams. Both squads featured excellent pitching and timely defence. The teams traded punches, blow for blow, for most of the game until Oshawa fell behind by a run late in the game and eventually losing 2-1. Joe Kuin was rock solid on the mound and kept Oshawa in the game all day.
Having to regroup and refocus quickly and facing almost certain elimination, Oshawa had to play the Hamilton Cardinals later in the day. This game featured another pitcher’s duel with Nicholas Smith and Ryan Mattes stifling Hamilton to one run over seven-innings. The Cardinals matched Oshawa pitch for pitch for most of the game, but timely offence by Ty Ashwin and Josh Whent tipped the scales resulting in a 2-1 Oshawa victory.
With Oakville winning all three of their pool play games it guaranteed them 1st place in the pool with Oshawa in 2nd. Based on outstanding defensive play, Oshawa advanced to the quarter-finals as one of two wild card teams.
The challenge on Sunday would be to face an offensive juggernaut, Brampton 2 squad who were the No. 2 seed in the tournament. This quarter final game lived up to its billing with strong offence from both teams. It was another hard-fought battle with the highlight being an Alex Guest tape measure shot to left field to seal the deal for an 11-7 Oshawa win.
Moving on to the semi-finals, Oshawa faced a rematch of their early round nemesis, the Oakville A’s. This time the outcome was drastically different with Oshawa overwhelming their opponent 16-1. Oakville coaches declined a suggested protest that bench coach Jeff Sharpe socks were not regulation. Besides Oakville had an unfair advantage since the plate ump had played for an Oakville coach in 2011.
In the final, Oshawa faced a powerhouse Brampton Royals team, who are arguably one of the top teams in the country at this age-group and also the reigning OBA Champions. This was truly a battle for the ages, with Oshawa ending up on top of the rock pile with a score of 8-4. Every player contributed to the victory in some way and it was very much a team effort all around whether a clutch hit, timely web-gem or support from the bench.