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Cardinals 2023 8U OBA champions

 Cardinals Ontario 8U champions


   Down 10-2 early, St. Thomas rallies for a 22-14 walk-off victory 


  September 5, 2023


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By Rob J. Ross

ST. THOMAS - That deafening roar from southeast St. Thomas Sunday morning was a team of young ball players celebrating a provincial championship.

The St. Thomas Cardinals won the Ontario Baseball Association 8U B championship, defeating the Woodstock Wranglers, 22-14, at the Tarry Complex.

Miles Tregenza knocked in Ashton Millyard for the winning run, igniting an eruption of excitement from mostly eight year olds, along with their coaches, parents and fans.

"It's been crazy. I've never been a head coach going through a whole tournament of this magnitude before," Cardinals' head coach Jason East said. "It's exciting as a coach. They're (players) the ones who put in the hard work and did it. We're just there to guide them."

Woodstock jumped on St. Thomas early, building a 10-2 lead after just two innings, but the Cardinals stormed back with 16 runs over their next three innings, for a 18-13 lead.

"The biggest thing we have going, the ability to get out of those situations. The kids are really good and resilient at digging deep and not quitting," East said. "We shut them down a bit and then we put up six runs. You could feel a little bit of a momentum shift. We were getting closer, not just nibbling away. We made a dent and then the next inning, to put up seven runs was a big difference maker."

The Cardinals scored six runs in the fourth to tie at 11. The Wranglers pushed ahead by two, before the Cardinals struck for the inning max seven runs.

"We're never out of a game. They're seven innings and you got to play them all," Cardinals coach Adam Millyard said. "The kids looked to the crowd to get that energy when we were down (score wise). They just feed off of the energy the crowd brings to every game. You can see it on their demeanor when they're out in the field."

Defensively the Redbirds shined, including twice turning inning ending double plays. The Cardinals stopped a Wranglers' threat in the fourth when Noah Annett flipped the ball to Tregenza, who fired it to first baseman Dylan East. Then third baseman Jaxson Gaudon made a catch and quick throw to second, to close out the sixth inning, catching the Woodstock base runner off the bag.

The Cardinals would score three runs in the top of seventh for an eight run lead, walking off the game. Due to the seven run per inning limit, the Wranglers could not catch the Cardinals in their half of the inning.

Tregenza and Noah Annett, both went four-for-five, with four RBIs. Dylan East was 4/5, with two RBIs and scored four times. Jaxson Gaudin was 4/5, with two RBIs. Millyard, Tucker Taylor and Oliver Southcott, each had three singles and two RBI. Six-year old Ben Wakefield, the youngest Cardinal on the team, had three singles and scored three runs.

Woodstock came in to the final undefeated at 4-0. St. Thomas, who dropped their opening game to Leamington Friday, had to beat the Wranglers twice for gold. The Cardinals took care of game one, with a 16-7 result Sunday evening.

St. Thomas finishes with an overall record of around 31-8, including winning the London Talons tournament and their London and District (LDBA) playoff in late August. The Cardinals also made the semifinals at an 'A' tournament in LaSalle.

Their LDBA victory was similar to OBAs, losing their second game and needing to beat London North twice in the final. The Cardinals prevailed with wins of 4-1 and 14-9.

"These boys have far exceeded any of my expectations for the season," coach East said. "I was asked early on in the season, if we would host OBAs and if we would have a team that would be there. All I could say is we'd be competitive in LDBA."

East wasn't certain of the team's potential, after the team only won two games all of last season.

However, boys showed promise right from opening day, winning their first two outings of 2023.

"We all learned a lot of good things last year that carried over to this year," coach Millyard said. "Playing travel ball and learning a lot of the little nuances of the game. There are so many little things that maybe you don't know when you're playing house league. Knowing where to be at the right time. Knowing when to hold the ball, knowing when to make the play. That was one of the biggest things I noticed this year.

"Every single kid grew tremendously this season. Their hitting came along, their catching, their throws and just the camaraderie of the team."

Now these Cardinals share a long lasting memory.

Cardinals' Ashton Millyard scores the decisive run on Miles Tregenza single.










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