Over two weeks ago, the 15U PBLO Championship Game was forced to be suspended due to rain. On Sunday, the Oshawa Legionaires and the London Badgers met to settle the score. Resuming in the third inning tied 2-2, the Oshawa Legionaires were hungry for the championship as the game immediately became a hitting fest. Scoring two runs in the third inning, two more in the fourth, and a five-spot in the fifth, the Legionaires became the 15U PBLO Champions with an 11-2 victory.
“We as a staff knew deep down that this group was deserving of nothing less than a championship,” Oshawa head coach Shawn Earle explained. Coming into the 15U tournament as the second seed — finishing the season with a 22-7-1 record — the Legionaires were one of the front runners to reach the final. “My initial reaction to winning the championship came with so many emotions. Knowing how much work this team put in from players to coaches and parents, starting from day one of fall ball last season.”
A major challenge that Earle and the rest of the 15U Legionaires had to counter was the two-week gap due to play being suspended on the last weekend of August. “The weather conditions definitely tested us and our mindsets over the weeks of the championship weekends,” Earle said. “Especially this Sunday as shortly after getting started, the thunder decided to roll once again putting us into a 30-minute delay.” With school beginning and travel time, it would have been unlikely for a second reschedule for the PBLO Championship. With this in mind, the 30-minute rain delay led to players and coaches pondering whether we would have had a tie for the top spot. Luckily, this thought was short-lived as play resumed and not another delay was on the horizon.
Despite being the fourth seed, the London Badgers had success over the Legionaires in the regular season, making them a dangerous opponent in a win-or-go-home game. “Figuring London’s top pitcher had thrown a no hitter against us a few weeks back, there was a great chance that’s who we would face to start,” Earle said. And he was spot on with his prediction. One of the PBLO Players-to-Watch going into the season, Badgers’ ace Jacob Belecky threw his first career no-hitter versus the Legionaires in the final few games of the regular season. He had their number, but the Legionaires also had now seen him thoroughly — gameplanning how to attack him so they can prevent a similar fate.
After Legionaires’ Mark Baxter singled to right field to begin the suspended third inning, the hitting never stopped. Scoring nine runs over the opening three innings, Oshawa never gave the Badgers a chance to breath. “Obviously wasn't happy with the final result; but you just have to move on and learn from it for future years,” Jacob Belecky said when describing the final score. “We were positive and confident in our abilities and looking forward to the challenge.” Belecky hoped this could be the beginning of a rivalry for years to come as they are great competition, giving the two squads plenty of opportunities to have a rematch down the road.
Earle attributed much of his team’s success to their never-ending dedication to the team and each other. “We have so much depth on the mound it’s incomparable. From weekly video calls and 3 times per week workouts at home during Covid. We never had a player miss one session throughout the whole offseason.” This hard work obviously paid off, with PBLO Player-to-Watch Preston Vieira earning player of the tournament honours as the backstop of the Legionaires, Daniel Gibbs continuing his outing from the original championship date, and PBLO Player-to-Watch Allon Seepersaud finishing the job on the mound. “No player deserves more praise than any other as this was a complete team championship accomplishment,” Earle exclaimed. The depth and dedication of the Legionaires is one of their strongest attributes as a team and should be instrumental in the continued development of their players.
Coach Shawn Earle wanted to make sure he could thank those involved in the success of the ballclub, which, in Legionaires fashion, was the entire organization as everyone has a part to play. “We want to make sure we thank each and every player, parent, Oshawa executive members, along with the many coaches and teams throughout the Baseball Oshawa community for all the support all season long. Especially the amount of support we were shown through our Championship run. To our assistant coaches, you truly are the glue that kept this machine together all season. Season well deserved and thank you for all the commitment to this team all year long. Champions you truly are! Thanks to our arm care coach Aaron Marshall and to our offseason hitting coach Andy Stewart. One more last big thank you goes out to our president Ken Babcock for putting together a great championship weekend. His efforts are unmatched when it comes to youth baseball in the community.”
The Oshawa Legionaires were able to make it to the top of the field this past summer. The offseason begins now with fall ball and winter workouts, giving this team another opportunity for development and growth. “When it comes to next season we can’t wait to get started once again. With almost every player returning and a few more players joining our squad we have no doubt that we have a great chance to get back to the top once again.”