After coming so close to winning it all the last two years, the Hamilton Minor Midget Cardinals won the OBA AAA Provincial Championship with a 2-0 victory over West Toronto.
Hamilton started with a convincing 10-1 win over Whitby on Friday morning, but the road got much tougher beginning Saturday morning.
The Cards faced East York in their second game and were able to secure a 6-3 victory on the strength of starter Mitch Gardiner’s pitching and Adam Rossit’s three hits and two RBI’s.
Game 3 came against West Toronto late Saturday afternoon with weather suspending the completion of the game to Sunday morning. The Cards never trailed jumping out to an early 2-0 lead en route to an 8-1 victory. Ryan Hare had a single and an RBI and seven Hamilton hitters scored to support Hamilton starter Hayden Waselynchuk who threw a two hit complete game.
In Game 4, the Hamilton Cardinals faced their toughest competition of the tournament in the well coached and fundamentally sound Tecumseh Thunder. The Cards led 1-0 until the top of the seventh when Tecumseh managed to score two runs off Hamilton starter Matt Humble. Humble was outstanding allowing just two runs off six hits in 6 2/3 innings before giving up the ball after reaching his maximum pitch limit. The Cards rallied to tie in the bottom of the seventh when Clayton Inrig’s RBI single scored Aaron Dinatale’s leadoff single and Hamilton just missed winning the game when Marcus Dicenzo was thrown out at home on Jake Osborne’s single to right field. Tecumseh managed to score three in the top of the eighth to win 5-2 and hand Hamilton their first loss.
With elimination a possibility in the double knockout format, Hamilton had to face Tecumseh again in the semi final with West Toronto receiving the bye into the final.
In the semi-final, there was no scoring until the bottom of the third inning when Hamilton shortstop Adam Rossit drove in Jake Osborne to give the Cards a 1-0 lead. Tecumseh managed to tie it a 1 in the top off the fifth off Hamilton starter Marcus Dicenzo. The score remained tied at one going into the bottom of the tenth inning when Daniel Krasulja led off with a walk and then was moved to second base on Hayden Waselynchuk’s perfect sacrifice bunt. Then with two out, Cards pitcher Justin O’Reilly skied a ball into right centre field that dropped between the two Tecumseh outfielders and gave Hamilton a hard fought victory and a berth in the final against West Toronto.
The Hamilton Cardinals wasted no time in getting the lead in the final as Ryan Hare drove in Hayden Waselynchuk with a hard hit single up the middle in the bottom of the second inning for a 1-0 lead. Cards starting pitcher Mitch Gardiner was almost untouchable, going into the last inning holding West Toronto to just four hits. Hamilton tacked on an insurance run in the top of the seventh when Marcus Dicenzo singled to drive in pitch runner Christian Nunez to go up 2-0 heading into the last inning for West Toronto.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh and Cards starter Mitch Gardiner reaching his pitch limit, Marcus Dicenzo made an outstanding play to get the second out off a hard hit ball that ricocheted off shortstop Adam Rossit. The next hitter hit a soft pop up to short and the celebration began as the Cards captured their first Provincial title.