Under-15 Canadian Thunderbirds rule the Wood Bat World

Hamilton’s Canadian Thunderbirds Under-15s are world champions.

The T-Birds, after losing their first two games of the 2007 Sandlot Wood Bat World Series, put together a string of six straight wins to take the title from 30 of North America’s elite teams competing in Nashville, Tennessee. It was the first time a team from Hamilton had entered the tournament.

Members of the World Champion Thunderbirds include: Manager Mel Oswald, coaches Eddie McConnell, Steve Harold, Don Kusey, General Manage Dave Burton; and players Troy Brown, Lawrence Burton, .John Csatary, Ryan Dillabough; Mitch Habid, Cameron Harold, Garnet Henrich, Josh Klingspohn, Dennon Koziol, Brian Kusey,Colin Maybee, Brandon Nelson, Andrew Neustaedter, Anthony Ricciardi, Steve Todoschuk, and Anthony Vacca.

The final was a rematch between the Canadian Thunderbirds and the Twitty City Tigers (named after country singer Conway Twitty). Hamilton scored a 2-0 win over the No. 1 seeded Tigers who entered the final with an unbeaten record, including a 4-2 victory over Hamilton in round-robin play, to claim the crown.

In the championship game, Hamilton’s offense managed just five hits but pushed Dennon Koziol (Hamilton) home in the fourth after his lead off triple. The T-Birds put another one on the board in the fifth taking advantage of a Tiger error. The defense and pitching in the Championship game were nothing short of spectacular. Starter Mitch Habib let the coaches know he was tiring, so they brought in a fresh arm.

They had four to choose from but went with Ryan Dillabough (Whitby). With runners on second and third and one out, Dillabough struck out the first batter he faced and then induced a ground ball to get out of the inning with no damage. He then tamed the Tigers the rest of the way.

Anthony Vacca had two hits to pace the Thunderbirds at the plate.

In their semifinal game, a 5-4 win over the Michigan Diamond Studz, Garnett Henrich (Port Dover) registered the win. He allowed two hits over five innings of work. Steve Todoschuk (Hamilton) provided some plate power, with two hits, including a triple, his fifth of the tournament. He also had an RBI.

In their other games, Hamilton scored a 7-4 win over the Louisville Prowlers with Koziol collecting three hits and two RBI. Brian Kusey picked up the win, giving up four hits in six innings of work, although he held Louisville to a single hit for the first five innings.

The Prowlers won the 14U World Series Championship last year and came into this game seeded No. 21. The Thunderbird had 10 hits including two doubles and another triple by Tododschuk. Anthony Ricciardi (North York) came on in relief and with the win the Thunderbirds were now the talk of the tourney.

Hamilton also posted a 5-2 win over the Ohio Future Stars. Dillabough was credited with the mound decision, holding the Stars to four hits over six innings of work. John Csatary had three hits for Hamilton, including a double. The Thunderbird bats were now awake and collected nine hits, including two doubles and two towering triples by Todoschuck who drove in three runs.

Henrich picked up the pitching decision in Hamilton’s 5-4 win over the Indiana Hoosier Bats in extra innings. John Klinspohn had two hits for Hamilton.

In Hamilton’s loss to the Tigers, Andrew Neustaedter was tagged with the loss. John Csatary, had two of Hamilton’s seven hits, including a triple.

Hamilton opened the tourney with a 2-1 loss to the Cincinnati Titans. Ricciardi took the loss, giving up three hits over six innings of work.