By Josh Howald
The Kincardine Cubs are All-Ontario champions.
The Kincardine Cubs celebrate in Wyoming following the OBA championship game. (submitted photo)
In recent season, Kincardine has had enough talent to field an OBA champion, but something always seemed to go wrong. Injuries, players leaving for school and general defensive sloppiness have seemed to leave the Cubs just short of their goal.
But this year, everything that could go right, did. The Cubs were absolutely dominant at the Ontario Baseball Association C Championship tournament on the weekend in Wyoming. They posted a perfect 6-0 record, with four of those games being called early with the 10-run mercy rule invoked. Even the championship game was a 12-1 mercy.
“This is the most talented team I’ve ever played on, and this weekend every single player was at the peak of their game,” said infielder Greg Stepaniak. “We put it all together at the right time, and played the best ball in the brief history of the Kincardine Cubs baseball team.”
Walkerton native Eric Elliott was handed the ball for the first OBA tournament game Friday night against the Mitchell Astros. His curveball was breaking nicely on this night, and he threw a complete game for a big win over Kincardine’s Thames Valley Senior Baseball League rivals. This one ended with a final score of 13-3.
The Cubs then put a 15-0 hurt on St. Catharines. Chris Inkster threw three innings, and Pat Kritz pitched the balance until this one was ended after five innings. Inkster then tossed a complete game in a 3-1 win over Petrolia. That was easily Kincardine’s closest game of the weekend, but Inkster kept the Petrolia bats quiet.
“Our pitchers were dominant in every game, and our team fielding was near perfect,” said Stepaniak. “There wasn’t a whole lot we could have improved on.”
A team from Bolton and the hosts from Wyoming would likely agree. They were both disposed of by Kincardine, with the mercy rule invoked after five innings in both contests. That landed Kincardine in Sunday afternoon’s OBA championship game.
The final would be a rematch with Petrolia. Adam Marseilles, who pitched the thumping over the hosts earlier in the day, was handed the ball to start for the Cubs.
“He was great,” said Elliott, “and we just tacked on runs.”
Provincial C championship game or not, the mercy rule had to be invoked once again with Kincardine holding a 12-1 advantage.
With high scoring wins all weekend, obviously all the Cubs had a good weekend at the plate. But Elliott said in his opinion, the team’s most valuable player on the weekend was Curt Cobean. The Port Elgin native was 15-21 on the weekend (somewhere around the .700 mark) and was unbelievable in the field.
“Also, the brother combination of Dane and Brandon (Dunlop) was incredible, turning double plays like it was their day job,” said Elliott.
The Cubs were focused on winning an OBA title. That has been the team’s goal for the past few seasons. What exactly that means for next weekend, however, remains to be seen. Kincardine will play in the Thames Valley Senior Baseball League A tournament with three other first round winners in order to crown a league champion. Kincardine finished first overall in the TVSBL in the regular season, and eliminated the London Area Giants in the opening round series. The Cubs didn’t even have to play a Game 3 against the Giants to win that set, with London forfeiting the rubber match due to a lack of players after pulling out a come-from-behind ninth inning comeback last Monday night.
Also advancing to the TVSBL A tournament was the Oakridge Reds, who swept Byron in two games and Listowel, who knocked out the St. Thomas Cardinals in two blowouts. Results from the opening round series between the Astros and the London Area Angels were unavailable as of press time.