The keyword for Leaside’s Major Rookie Ball Red team is perseverance.
And it seems to have worked, as the roster comprised of boys born in 2005 have won two major tournaments in a span of two months: Simcoe County in late June, and Iron Horse in Buffalo, in early August.
Graydon Lau, head coach and manager for the troupe, says it was no easy task at the beginning during their Simcoe appearance.
“The first two games were come-from-behind victories,” he said of their 8-4 win over Brantford Red Sox on June 27, and the following day’s 12-11 “walk-off win” over Ancaster Diamondbacks.
Lau chalked up the wins to the tenacity that was hidden deep inside his 13-man roster.
“Baseball’s one of those funny games where, if you give up a couple of runs, you get down on yourself,” he said. “Our keyword for the tournament was perseverance, and they never gave up and it showed.
“It’s going to be the keyword of the season as well.”
Leaside went undefeated in the tournament, finishing the round robin with a 21-3 drubbing of Delhi Tigers. They bounced Milton Mets in the semis, and gave the host team, Simcoe Braves, a 21-7 beating in the finals.
Though run production was not a problem, and stifling their opponents’ offence was natural, Lau was reticent to point out any standout performers.
“As a team we kind of came together in May,” he said. “We practise two to three times a week, six to eight hours a week on top of their school schedules, and for them to go to this tournament and have it culminate into a victory was a great payoff for all of their hard work that they put into it, and the harvest from the fruits of their labour.”
More tournaments were on the horizon, including a trip to the Lloyd McConnie Annual Select Rookieball Tournament July 12-13 in Etobicoke, where they finished second out of 16 teams. They also won the Young Guns Division at the Lou Gehrig Iron Horse Tournament in Buffalo on Aug. 4, beating Lancaster Blue 7-5. The team took in a Buffalo Bisons AAA ball game while south of the
The troupe has a 7-2 record in the Toronto Baseball Association’s select league, with one game left. They played East York Black on Aug. 10.
Playoffs are set for Aug. 15-17, and if they win there, they’ll be off to the provincials Labour Day weekend in Richmond Hill.
Members of Simcoe tournament roster are: Jack Anderson, Daniel Mick, Adam Willock, Karsten Puder Goldenthal, Agastya Kushari, Ronen Isenberg, Keegan Covert, Griffin McPhee, James Mantzoris, Cameron Lau, Luke Hilborn and Noah Schifman.
The bench bosses include Lau, Mike Anderson, Jeff Goldenthal, Brad Willock and Grant Mick.
Simcoe County tournament results
Round Robin (3-0-0)
Leaside Red (8) vs. Brantford Red Sox (4)
Leaside Red (12) vs. Ancaster Diamondbacks (11)
Leaside Red (21) vs. Delhi Tigers (3)
Semis: Leaside Red (18) vs. Milton Mets (0)
Finals: Leaside Red (21) vs. Simcoe Braves (7)
Lou Gehrig Iron Horse tournament results
Round Robin (1-1-1)
Leaside Red (7) vs. Clarence Black (11)
Leaside Red (14) vs. Hamburg Dawgs (14)
Leaside Red (24) vs. Buffalo Braves (7)
Semis: Leaside Red (7) vs. Buffalo Braves (6)
Finals: Leaside Red (7) vs. Lancaster Blue (5)