Dramatic win for 16U Falcons
The Niagara Falls Falcons rode a roller-coaster of emotions to bring home an Ontario Baseball Association 16U AA championship.
The Falcons won their first four games and went into the final undefeated before blowing a big lead in the championship game, then rallying for a dramatic 14-13 win over Leamington.
“We had the confidence knowing we had a shot for sure. We had won a bantam elite tournament earlier in the year,” Falcons head coach Sean Krawchuk said.
“I’ve been through this lots of times and it’s definitely not an easy tournament to win.”
The Falcons defeated host Mississauga 10-4, Ancaster 10-5, Wyoming 7-2 and blanked Leamington, who had a bye, 8-0 to go to 4-0.
The Falcons then played North York who they had lost to previously in a tournament. After racing out to a 4-3 lead, the Falcons held on for a 4-3 win thanks to a complete-game effort by Ryan Nicholson.
“The last batter, he was at 99 (pitches), so I let him go and sure enough he ended up battling and getting the out,” Krawchuk said. “It was a big moment for him and the team. They were really excited about it.”
The Falcons then played Leamington again for the title and went into the game overconfident.
“We thought (it would be) no problem,” Krawchuk admitted. “Kids think, ‘We got this,’ and they don’t understand how hard it is to finish the job.
“When you don’t have your backs against the wall, they think it’s no problem.”
Leamington topped the Falcons 11-1 to set up a one-game, winner-take-all showdown for the championship.
“We had to reset and refocus,” Krawchuk said.
The final was a dramatic, back-and-forth contest in which the Falcons jumped out to a 12-4 lead, fell behind 13-12, then scored a pair of runs in the top of the seventh to take a 14-13 lead.
“It was a crazy game,” Krawchuk said. “We’ve been hitting the ball all weekend. Even the games when we didn’t score, we left a lot of guys on.
“I was very confident in my lineup.”
The Falcons then held Leamington in the bottom of the seventh thanks to Erik Williston, who set down the opposition on a pair of groundouts and a strikeout.
Krawchuk said the Falcons were able to keep their focus throughout the tournament.
“Believe it or not, we work on breathing. For us, we really try to slow ourselves down and breathe in the moment. We talk a lot about that, taking a breath. As weird as it is, the Navy Seals do it a lot.
“It’s something we work on with the kids, trying to get them to slow back down and get back into the reality of it.”
Other members of the team are: Ben Lannan, Ben Monfils, Bryson Allen, David Pinelli, Eli Vujovic, Hudson Krawchuk, Carter Krawchuk, Jacob Pozzobon, Kaden Vaillancourt, Max Hao, Noah Carl, Peter Valla and Will Anderson.
“I had 15 kids and it broke my heart to have kids sit on the bench, but every kid got in,” Krawchuk said. “There were a few kids who for the last two games didn’t get in as much as I wanted them to. The umpires hated me because we were constantly subbing guys in and out and re-entering and using a kid to run.”
Krawchuk was assisted by Bill Lannan and Dan Pozzobon. Cindy Pozzobon acted as manager and Dan Williston as scorekeeper.
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