It’s a good year to be a Brave.
The Senior Braves baseball team just completed a record-setting season and the Midget squad also made some history by winning the Stan Slack Memorial tournament.
The tournament win was the first by Sarnia in 23 years. It was renamed in 2014 to reflect Slack’s contribution to the Brave’s program and carried extra significance for the hometown team, said head coach Jim Bigras.
“Obviously, Stan Slack was very instrumental in starting our program back up. In a lot of ways it was fitting to win it in Stan’s memory,” he said.
“I think Stan was in the house.”
The U18 tournament featured six teams from Ontario and Michigan and was played on Stan Slack Field at Errol Russell Park.
“Defensively we played really well, and we pitched extremely well,” said Bigras. “When you put those components together with some timely hitting, usually good things happen.”
The Braves carried a 3-2 record into the final game, a Sunday afternoon match-up against the Springfield Under-18s. Springfield has been tournament favourite over the years and hadn’t lost a game all weekend. But the Braves played “small ball” to down the Michiganders 3-0.
“We focus on bunting balls into areas that defence can’t defend,” explained Bigras.
“There were some key situations in almost every game where we played a short game to position for a big inning. If they can’t defend the bunt, you keep bunting.”
Jake Burgess and Drew Pepper both performed well on the mound and Jake Taylor – who pitched in the final – delivered what Bigras said was probably his best game of the season.
The AAA Senior Braves had an outstanding season and entered the league playoffs Aug. 9 by hosting the Exeter Express. At presstime, the Braves had taken game one of the best-of-three semi-finals, defeating Exeter 10-8.
Exeter was the only team in the SouthWestern League play to beat the Braves, which finished the regular season 19-1. Factoring in tournaments, the Braves have compiled a record-setting 33-3 season.
The Senior Braves were ranked number one in Ontario, and made it to the final five at the Ontario AAA Eliminations tournament, which hosted 22 teams from across Ontario.