by Christopher Finner
The Seaway Surge Minor Peewee team recently won the 2017 Akadema Summer Classic baseball tournament in Syracuse, NY. In a division with nine highly competitive American teams, the boys very quickly realized that advancing to the finals in this tournament would be a difficult task. After going 1 and 2 in the preliminary round, the Surge team may have been overlooked by most observers as a playoff contender, but they played some great baseball when the games counted.
A berth in the championship seemed especially unlikely for Seaway, considering the game situation as their quarterfinal playoff game was coming to a close. Against the Camillus Wildcats, the Surge were tied 6-6 in the bottom of the final inning, with the Wildcats at the plate. Camillus loaded the bases with no outs and a 3-0 count on the batter. Surge pitcher, Braden Leeder, took a deep breath and then delivered a series of perfect throws, finally enticing the Wildcat hitters to swing their bats. Two batters in a row hit grounders to third baseman Rhett McLean, who twice zipped the ball to catcher Evan Cory for a pair of force outs at home. The third Wildcat batter hit a weak line drive which was snagged right before it hit the dirt by a diving Wesley Finner from the short stop position. The Surge went on to score two runs in the top of the tiebreaker inning, and then held their opponent scoreless to advance to the semifinals.
In the semi, the Surge avenged an earlier loss to the Syracuse Spartans with a 12-5 victory. Finner and McLean combined to handle the pitching duties. Next, Braden Leeder returned to the mound for the finals against the CNY Naturals Gold. Prior to the game, the tournament organizers from Champions Events stated that no Canadian team had ever reached their championship game. The Naturals scored the first two runs, but Seaway eventually responded in the sea-saw battle. Leeder seemed to get stronger on the mound as the game advanced, but Central New York’s lefty pitcher was also performing at an elite level. (The pitcher’s pick-off move to first base was the best the Surge players had seen all season.) With a slim 4-3 lead in the top of the final inning, Nathan Hay provided some insurance with a sharply hit RBI single, scoring Zach Hale. Eventually, Leeder also scored on an error and then Finner cashed in Hay with an RBI single to bring the score to 7-3. Braden Leeder capped the game with another “three up-three down” effort, bringing his impressive strike-out total to eight. Some notable statistics from the six games of the tournament: Evan Cory scored 7 runs. Rory Gilmour had 10 RBI. Wesley Finner batted .667, followed closely by Justin Van Luit at .615.
The Surge’s victory adds one more impressive accomplishment to a highly successful tournament campaign in 2017, with a championship appearance in Kanata, a tournament victory in Kemptville, and now an exciting win in Syracuse. Coach Dennis Van Luit chalks up much of the success to the players’ willingness to strive for improvement by committing themselves to a five-month competitive season that started back in mid-March. The Seaway Surge Minor Peewee team will wrap up their season on August 13-14 with a best of three game series with Kanata AA for the National Capital (NCOBA) Championship.
The Seaway Surge Baseball Club offers Elite “AA” and “A” Rep level baseball to skilled young men and women looking to develop their talent under the guidance of excellent coaching and in a highly competitive environment. As a member of Baseball Ontario, the National Capital Ontario Baseball Association (NCOBA) and the Eastern Ontario Baseball Association (EOBA) our teams play regular season games against high level teams from throughout the National Capital Region and Eastern Ontario, compete in tournaments in Canada and the United States and challenge the best teams from Ontario for the Baseball Ontario and Baseball Canada Championships.