London News & Search
Three area teams will be battling for two spots that will land them in Victoria, B.C., for the Canadian senior men’s baseball championship.
The 2017 Baseball Ontario senior elimination tournament is being held in London and St. Thomas. The 22-team event is Aug. 4-7.
The Ilderton Red Army, Sarnia Braves and Strathroy Royals are the area teams. The Royals are silver medallists from last year. They went on to the national event in Fredericton and won silver there as well.
The Tecumseh Thunder are a perennial powerhouse. They’ve won the national two years in succession.
“They beat us here in Ontario 4-2 and beat us at nationals 4-3,” said Derek Bloomfield, who runs the Royals.
The Royals have made it to the national tournament two of the last four years. The Royals have qualified for the Ontario tournament 13 of the 14 years of the team’s existence. They were also silver medallists in Prince George, B.C.
Bloomfield believes the Thunder will again be the team everyone will be looking at, but he doesn’t discount his team or teams from Mississauga or East York.
He said his team is “pretty good” this year as well. He said the Royals scheduled most of their games for July so that they would be primed and at their peak for this tournament. It has taken some time, though, for his club to get into the flow of things, even though they are 13-3 in the Southwestern Senior Baseball League. Sarnia and Ilderton also play in the league.
Sarnia is 16-2 in league play and the Braves were 5-0 without giving up a run in winning the recent Lakeside tournament.
Ilderton is 12-5.
“We’re just starting to knock some rust off now,” Bloomfield said. “If all goes well and we stay healthy, I think we’ll have a shot but it’s baseball and you just never know.”
The tournament is mostly for players from
The tournament is basically for players 21and older. Some teams will bring younger players.
“But we can’t have younger players because of the London and District Baseball Association rules,” Bloomfield said.
Some people may think that this level of baseball is not particularly strong but that view isn’t an accurate one Bloomfield said.
“It’s good ball. There’s a lot of good ball players here,” he said. “It’s a league for guys who can’t make commitments to other leagues like the (Intercounty Baseball League.) If you were to put some numbers together and ask all the teams, I’m willing to bet that 60 or 70 percent of the guys have played college baseball either in the United States or Canada. You’re finding a bunch that have played professional ball. We have a couple and I know players on other teams have as well.
“It’s good. Some guys are older and can’t make the commitment or there’s a problem with work or whatever but they are good players.”
The tournament is a double-knockout setup with a team having to lose twice to be eliminated. A loss early in the tournament means a long road back for any team.
Strathroy’s first game of the tournament is Friday, August 4 at Emslie Field in St. Thomas. They take on Burlington.
Sarnia draws the tough Tecumseh squad. That’s a Friday morning contest 10 a.m. at Labatt Park in London.
Ilderton will take on Kingston, the team with the furthest to travel, Friday 10 a.m. at Pulham Field in London.
Most teams will play two games on Friday.
The team pairings are randomly drawn.
Medal games will be held the holiday Monday at Labatt Park.
London News & Search