With city title in pocket, Leaside baseball team now on to provincials
Leaside’s Bantam AA team may have won the Toronto Baseball Association’s 2014 championship, but the road to the title was a tortuous one.
Manager Dan Berlin shared the hairbreadth escapes his team of 11 players encountered during the weekend of Aug. 15–17.
It all started with a debate over which team would be seeded No. 1 for the playoffs. Bloordale and Leaside sat atop the division. Both teams had a called game against Barrie. And both recognized what was available to the top seed: a bye past the double-elimination first round.
The convenor came up with the idea that Leaside and Bloordale would initially play an extra game, which would count as their final regular season game.
Leaside would lose 9-4, wrapping up their regular season with a 13-5-2 record and second seed. Their first match would be against rivals North Toronto A’s.
“It was a great opportunity for our team to ultimately take a big breath, gather ourselves and to clean the slate to get ready for the championships.” Berlin said.
Still, North Toronto was no easy task on Aug. 15, as they managed to climb back into the first playoff game with a five-run rally in the top of the sixth to tie the score.
“I think there was a bit of a here-we-go-again feeling amongst our team when we brought everyone in,” Berlin said. “We were able to rally the guys and they hung on to win the game 7-6.”
After dispatching North Toronto, Leaside set their sights on Royal York who upset Bloordale in the two teams’ opening match.
Leaside would put in their best showing of the season with a 15-7 victory, and would earn a bye to the final against Royal York again, winning 5-3 in the rematch.
The best story out of the playoffs, according to Berlin? Jonah Jay.
“He was a raw player who had a great desire to learn, and I just loved his attitude,” Berlin said. “I took a chance on him, and without a question he was as committed and hard-working a player we had.
“Sure enough, the culmination of all his hard work paid off — here we are in the final game, and he gets the start for our team, only allowed one hit in five innings and he also got three RBIs in the game to lead our team to victory,” he added. “I remember my words to him were, ‘You picked the best time to play the best game of your life.”
Chris Dinnick was also named the tournament MVP for his stalwart defence.
Also included on the roster are Mark McIlhone, Shane Thorsteinson, Jimmy MacDonald, Aaron Gotkin, Nico Robert, Owen Benson, Matt Tohana-Belisle, Liam Haggerty and François Bourbonnais. Leaside’s bench quartet features Todd Betts, Dan Berlin, Steve Osterer and Paul Rosen.
Leaside started the Ontario Baseball Association’s playoffs Aug. 29, with their third straight matchup against Royal York. Results
were not available at press time.