Team Ontario’s golden moment
Aiden Taggart is a good as gold.
The 15-year-old Grimsby native earned a gold medal as Team Ontario topped Team Alberta 11-1 in the men’s baseball championship final Saturday night at the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games held before a large crowd at Welland Stadium.
Team Ontario won the gold in style, walking it off with a run in the bottom of the sixth to mercy Team Alberta.
That set off a wild celebration as players poured out of the dugout and celebrated on the field before posing for pictures and then finally getting their hardware in the official medal ceremony.
“It’s great,” Taggart smiled. “I have no words to be able to do this with such great guys on the team.
“I’ve never won anything this big. It’s really the highlight of my baseball career so far.”
Taggart said he won’t soon forget the experience.
“This is definitely something I will love for the rest of my life,” he said.
Taggart wasn’t sure how the team was going to commemorate the accomplishment but seemed sure something memorable would be worked out.
“We’re going to find a way to celebrate this,” he said.
Taggart, who pitched in two games in the tournament, said the players immediately bonded.
“It’s amazing, these guys. We’ve know each other for a week now and it’s amazing what we could accomplish together,” he said. “We’ll always have that as a team.”
Team Ontario got off to a bit of a shaky start splitting six games in the preliminary round before finding their groove in the playoffs where they defeated Team Quebec 2-0 in the quarter-finals before mercying Saskatchewan 22-4 in the semifinals Friday.
Taggart said it was gold or bust for Team Ontario since Day 1.
“That was the goal,” he said. “We came in and knew we were going to be the favourites as Ontario but we wanted to take that gold anyway and we succeeded.”
Team Saskatchewan defeated Team B.C. 6-5 for the bronze medal earlier Saturday.
The gold medal game capped a great week of baseball.
“It couldn’t have come together any better,” Canada Games Baseball Sport Lead Geoff Allen said. “It was a real team effort.”
Allen feels having the Games in Niagara will leave a lasting legacy.
“It doesn’t get bigger in baseball in Canada than the Canada Summer Games,” he said. “Our coaches, our players, our fans, everyone was here to see these players. They’re 17 years old and we had people here from all over the country.
“Baseball Canada now knows the Niagara Region can handle this and our goal is to go after more national championships.”
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