By Darryl G. Smart
The Simcoe Hydro One Giants have made history.
After capturing the Southern Counties Baseball Association title the week before, the Giants’ momentum kept going all the way to the Baseball Ontario 9U B championship in Welland.
In doing so, they became the youngest Giants team to win a provincial championship.
“I couldn’t be more excited for these kids,” coach Ryan Meade said. “The timing was perfect. It (winning the SCBA title) was a great lead up to that weekend. After the Southern Counties tournament, the kids just had this amazing attitude going into Welland.”
The Giants knew the three-team August Madness finale, featuring the Giants, Welland and Leamington Lakers, wasn’t going to be an easy feat. They kicked things off on August 30 at home, with a 12-12 tie against Welland. A few days later, they kicked off the long weekend in Welland, beating the Lakers 29-13, before edging Welland 29-28 and losing 23-13 to the Lakers to end the day.
On Sunday, the Giants didn’t let the loss affect them, blanking the Lakers 17-0 to set up the final against Welland. In that game, the Giants completed their run, scoring six runs in the second inning and seven more in the fifth, to beat Welland 15-5 to clinch the provincial championship.
“The kids were tired and took that loss to Leamington personally,” Meade said. “Sunday they came right back. The attitudes were great. All four coaches didn’t say much. We just told them to have fun and play Simcoe baseball. ”
Which is exactly what they did on championship Sunday, blowing out the Lakers and Welland for the title.
“We had that seven run inning and they knew they had it,” Meade said. “Every kid was on their feet. It was incredible to watch. As impressive as it was to see them hit the ball the way they did, our defence was so much fun to watch. It’s rare to see three up-three down innings at this level. Our kids were doing that. They were making great baseball plays.”
And after the big inning that forced the game to end early because of the mercy rule, the kids were ecstatic.
“You could see it on their faces,” Meade said. “The funny thing was, they were having such a fun time, they wanted to play more baseball. They asked if they could play again.
“We lined them up on the baseline and presented the trophy. The excitement was amazing,” he said. “I handed the trophy to them and they took it and held it up. It’s a special group of kids. And it was a special moment looking back at it. These kids would hold each other up. That picture speaks for itself. It was almost sad to see the season end.”
After the game, Meade said he got a text from Simcoe Minor Baseball Association president Jeff Shortt congratulating him and the team. That’s when he found out the team made history.
“He said that we are the first Rookie team to bring a provincial title to Simcoe,” Meade said. “It hit us all pretty hard. I can’t tell you how proud I am of that.”
That pride showed on the traditional Bickle ride around town on holiday Monday.
“They are the youngest players to ride the Bickle,” Meade said. “All of the kids couldn’t see over it, which was funny. It was a special time. They were so excited I don’t know if that bell has been rung so much.It’s a very rewarding end to a season.”