Peewees bring home Canadian gold
Members of the championship winning Norwich-Otterville peewee boys' team include, in the back, coach Tom McMillan, coach Kevin Schneider, Chaz McMillen, Curtis Ball, Caleb Vankerrebroeck, Travis Vermeersch, Ben Serrador, Cooper Landry, Blake VanVliet, Quinn Schneider, Josh McMillan, coach Blair Couwenberg and coach Jason Ewing. In the front are Mathew Simpson, Brandon Moodie, Easton Thompson and Nicole Steinhoff.
After a busy two months after the Ontario Elimination Tournament and placing fifth in the province, the Norwich-Otterville peewee boys team and their families worked hard to raise money to attend the Eastern Canadian Fastball Championships representing Team Ontario Aug. 24-28 in Frederiction, New Brunswick.
The team began the tournament playing Quebec Aug. 25. The Otters went on to defeat Team Quebec 5-1 in seven innings. Winning pitcher was starter Blake VanVliet who only gave up one run and two hits. Quinn Schneider came in closing the game out. Josh McMillan had a single and a double. Player of the game went to Travis Vermeersch.
Later that evening Norwich-Otterville played Team Newfoundland #2. The team continued the momentum, the bats came out strong and starting pitcher Schneider threw a perfect game with 10 strike-outs in four innings of play. The Otters defeated the team 12-0 in four innings. Honourable mentions go to Ben Serrador with three triples and Vermeersch with a single, HR and triple. Player of the game went to Schneider.
On day two, round robin play completed with the Otters facing host team New Brunswick. Norwich-Otterville once again came out with strong hits and excellent defensive play. Everyone contributed to the game with hits leading to a 14-4 win over this team in four innings.
Caleb Vankerrebroeck led the team with two singles and also reached on an error. Vermeersch had two singles. Winning pitcher was McMillan who pitched all four innings and was named player of the game.
Game 2 of the day gave Team Ontario the biggest challenge of the tournament thus far. This game was the beginning of the playoffs as the undefeated team. Both the Otters and this New Brunswick team were 3-0 at this time. A strong New Brunswick team #1 came out with both strong pitching and big bats. They opened the game with five runs in the fifth inning and another three runs in the second inning.
The Otters could only respond with getting two runs those two innings. Schneider came in to pitch for Blake VanVliet in the second inning and were able to hold the New Brunswick team to limited runs. The Otters had a strong third inning, scoring five runs led off by McMillan with a single, Vermeersch with a double and Chaz McMillen and VanKerrebroeck with singles that inning. The game went on with each side scoring a few runs back and forth. Final was 13-9 in seven innings. Player of the game went to Vankerrebroeck with two singles and a walk.
With this win Team New Brunswick had an automatic berth to the finals the next day. The Otters would have to take the hard route and continue to play another three games to reach the finals.
A third game was played Saturday vs Newfoundland #3 team. Starting pitcher McMillan came out strong, pitching three innings and giving up one run on three hits. Schneider finished off the game giving up one run. The Norwich-Otterville bats continued to stay on fire with 10 hits in the game. Final score after the mercy win was 9-2 in six innings.
Sunday the team was ready to play Team Ontario #2-Rostock for a semi-final match up. Starting pitcher VanVliet came out strong shutting down Rostock and limiting them to three hits and no runs over four innings. McMillan came in to close the game giving up one run in the fifth. The Otters went on the win the game 7-0 after five-inning mercy win. Every player that game got on the board with a hit. Special mention to Nicole Steinhoff, Brandon Moodie and Mathew Simpson for three key hits in the game to start the scoring streak. Player of the game was VanVliet.
The team now faced the New Brunswick team #1 again that they had lost to earlier in the tournament.
The finals were Sunday afternoon. The Otters were the visiting team hitting first and came out stronger than ever. After a hit batter and error by New Brunswick, the Otters hits starting coming in by Vermeersch, McMillen, VanVliet, Vankerrebroeck and Moodie to allow for a five-run first inning.
Starting pitcher Schneider came out strong, throwing dominant strikes and the team behind him continued to make play after play in the field.
Three-up-three-down first inning led to the Otters batting again and putting up another four runs in the top of the second inning. Hits by Schneider, Serrador, McMillen, VanVliet and a walk by Stenhoff kept the momentum. The New Brunswick team seemed shocked with what was happening in the game.
The third and fourth inning were all about pitching and defense for both teams. Schneider continued to shut down their offense and gave up a total of five hits and one run after four innings. Closer VanVliet came in the fifth inning and gave up one hit and no runs and the Otters defeated the New Brunswick team 9-1 mercy win after five innings.
The excitement poured onto the field and all the players, coaches and fans celebrated the big win on the field. Norwich-Otterville was recognized with players Vermeersch and Vankerrebroeck making the All-Star team and pitcher Schneider was named Tournament MVP.
The Norwich-Otterville U14 peewee boys team brought home the gold as Eastern Canadian Champs.