Royals complete playoffs undefeated
Submitted photo The Meridian Credit Union Orillia Royals Peewee Select Baseball Team captured the York-Simcoe B-Division Championship. In the front row, from left: Richard Thompson, James Pritchard, Matthew Montross, Jacob Budney, Nathan Molloy and Kyle Heckendorn. Second Row: Calum McKim, Will Timpano, Dylan Rankin and Emitt McDonald. Back Row: Tim Timpano (head coach), Butch Rankin (associate coach), Taylor Pratt (associate coach). Absent: Matthew Bush, Gabe Rutherford, Katie Pritchard (team manager) and Matt Salmon (assistant coach).
The Meridian Credit Union Orillia Royals peewee selects finished their season in fine form, going undefeated at the year-end playoff tournament to capture the B Division Championship of the York-Simcoe Baseball Association.
Orillia, who entered the tourney at the third seed, kicked off the tournament on a rainy Friday night against the Vaughan Vikings. Things didn't start well for the Royals, who found themselves down 4-0 at the end of the first inning. But once their nerves settled down, Orillia relied on pitching and defence to take control of the game and led 8-4 by the end of the fourth. Then, the Royals' offence found its groove, scoring eight more times en route to an impressive 16-5 victory. Nathan Molloy earned the win on the mound and Will Timpano was excellent in relief. Matthew Bush led the Royals' offence with a single, a double and two RBI, while James Pritchard and Richard Thompson each scored a pair of runs and were perfect at the plate.
Game two saw the Royals take on the tournament hosts and No. 1 seed, the Muskoka Hornets. This time it was Orillia who jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead and they didn't look back. After a five-inning contest that stretched over two days due to a lengthy rain delay, Orillia walked away with a much-deserved 14-7 win. Dylan Rankin set the tone early for Orillia, allowing only two hits in his three innings as the Royals' starter; Jacob Budney pitched a no-hitter in relief to seal the win. The Royals were relentless at the plate, led by Timpano, who went three for three while Rankin and Emitt McDonald each went two for two. Matthew Montross added a single and a double to the Royals' totals, and Kyle Heckendorn contributed a pair of timely hits as well.
After a well-earned bye, Orillia next faced the only other undefeated team, the second-seeded Markham Mariners. McDonald went the distance on the mound for the Royals, who needed only four innings to mercy Markham by a score of 16-5. The offence came from everywhere for Orillia, with doubles from Budney and Heckendorn and singles from Molloy (2), Pritchard, Budney, Rankin, Montross, Thompson and Calum McKim.
Round 5 was a nail-biter against the Richmond Hill Phoenix, with the Royals squeaking out a tough 7-6 win. Richmond Hill, fresh from its bye round, pounced on a tired Royals team to take a quick 6-0 lead after only two innings of play. But by the third inning, the Royals got their second wind, tightened up on defence and started chipping away at their opponent's lead. Orillia scored once in the fourth, added two in the fifth and rallied for four more in the sixth to take a 7-6 lead. McKim took over from Rankin on the mound in the sixth, and locked things down to preserve the win, which included a heart-stopping double play at the plate to prevent the tying run from scoring in the bottom of the seventh inning. Budney went 2-for-3 at the plate for Orillia, and singles went to Bush, Heckendorn, Molloy and Pritchard. Timpano pitched in with two RBI, and Rankin's aggressive base-running scored the winning run for the Royals.
Orillia faced the Markham Mariners in the championship game. Unfortunately, Mother Nature wasn't ready for the 2017 season to come to an end, so the tournament had to be suspended and Orillia was required to travel to Markham when the weather improved. Orillia was determined to prove that it was the better team, and they did just that, exploding out of the gate with eight runs in the first inning to chase Markham's ace from the game. That was plenty of run support for Rankin, as the Royals' starter only allowed three runs during his three innings on the mound. He turned things over to McKim with the Royals securely in front, 12-3. Markham fought hard right to the end, but could only manage three runs over three innings with McKim on the mound. McDonald came in to finish things off in the seventh inning to secure the 13-6 win, and clinch the YSBA B Championship for the Royals.
As it was all year, the entire team chipped in offensively for Orillia in the title game as every single player crossed the plate at least once. Timpano was perfect in his four plate appearances, Molloy drilled a pair of doubles and Thompson knocked in runs, two of which came off a hard double to the left-centre gap. Heckendorn had a pair of hits for Orillia while Pritchard, Montross, McDonald and Budney added singles.
Overall, it was an excellent year for the young Royals' squad, who far exceeded expectations, said head coach Tim Timpano. "We only had six players returning from last year's team, so we really didn't know how quickly or how well the boys would come together as a team," said Timpano. "But the returning players set the tone and everyone embraced their role. We certainly had some rough patches, but the boys had fun together and they continued to compete hard all season long. The coaches couldn't be more proud."
The coaches and players are already thinking about next year. Tryouts for next year's team will begin next week. The 2018 tryouts for peewees - boys born in 2005 or 2006 and girls born in 2004, 2005 or 2006 - have been scheduled for the following dates:
Sept. 18, 8 to 10 pm at McKinnell Park (Ross Diamond)
Sept. 24, 10 a.m. to noon at McKinnell Park (Ross Diamond)
Sept. 26, 8 to 10 p.m. at McKinnell Park (Ross Diamond)
Sept. 28, 6 to 8 p.m. at Tudhope Park (Udell Diamond)
Sept. 30, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at McKinnell Park (Ross Diamond)
Oct.1, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at McKinnell Park (Ross Diamond)
Tryout schedules and schedule changes will be posted at orilliaminorbaseball.ca. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.