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Essex Midget Minor bring home fourth OBA title



submitted to EFP

The Essex Midget Minor (16 year olds) baseball team travelled to Mississauga to play in this year’s 2018 AA Baseball Ontario Provincial Championships.

This team has had much success in the past. The teams greatest achievement being an unbelievable three OBA titles in a row, moving up divisions and playing against larger cities every year.

When the Essex coaches decided to go “AA” this year and play the top tier 1 teams from the Toronto area, they figured it wouldn’t hurt the boys to play through some adversity and finally lose a championship tournament. The coaches were very nervous about playing against the two powerhouse teams in Ontario, #2 Halton Hills or #1 Barrie, as that may result in an embarrassing loss.

On Friday morning, the boys played their usual style and beat Erindale 12 -2. In game two, on Friday evening, the odds finally caught up to Essex. After playing almost flawless baseball in the provincial tournament three years in a row, the boys fell apart. Essex made nine errors, and struck out in one quarter of their at bats in a humbling 9-1 loss to Bolton. One more loss and Essex’s championship run would be over.

Essex had not lost an early round game in three years. No one was sure how the team would respond after such an unusual and ugly loss.

The boys removed all doubt about their character as a team by beating two very good teams in Ancaster 8-3 and Leaside 10-2.

Essex achieved a huge accomplishment by making it to the final day of this tournament.

On Sunday morning, Essex had to play one of the tournament favourites, the powerhouse Halton Hills. Halton won this tournament last year, going undefeated and was also undefeated this year, going into this game.

Essex played very well, only being down 5-2, going into its last at bat. The Essex boys were fired up and cheering, actually believing they could score four runs against this very good team. Incredibly, Essex worked the pitcher for two walks, hit three singles, a double, and came away with possibly their biggest win ever, a 6-5 walk off win and a berth in the championship game.

Like every good underdog story, Essex found itself faced off against this year’s number one “AA” team in Ontario, the Barrie Baycats. As if it was scripted for a movie, Essex played one of the teams best games ever.

Behind some great pitching and almost perfect defence, the Essex Yellow Jackets took a 2-1 lead into the final inning. Barrie was at bat, with two outs, and the tying run on third, when the Essex catcher caught a fastball over the outside corner. The ump threw out his hand calling strike three, and the Essex players threw their gloves into the air and ran to the mound, embracing each other and celebrating their stunning championship victory.

This team of a great group of young men have now captured four Provincial Championships in a row and five Provincial Championships overall.

It sounds a little cliché, but the Essex coaches and parents just watched it played out in real life.

It doesn’t matter where you’re from, how big or how small, or how tough your adversary is. It’s the size of your heart that matters.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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