Thunder midgets qualify for provincials

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Buoyed by an undefeated run through the Eastern Ontario Baseball Association 18U Midget A Playdown tournament this past weekend, which they hosted, the Kingston Thunder have some confidence heading into the Baseball Ontario 18U Midget A Championship this Friday to Sunday in Brantford.

It will be the fourth trip to a provincial double-elimination clash for this Thunder group, having made their first appearance as minor bantams in 2015. They then went as minor midgets in 2017 and midgets in 2018, advancing to the final four before being eliminated the past two years.

“We are a solid team this year that should compete with any team in this tournament if we play the way we can,” head coach Bryan Leeman said.

The Thunder opened the six-team, double-knockout EOBA tourney held at Woodbine Park with a 10-5 win over the Peterborough Tigers. They followed that with a narrow 7-6 victory over the Ajax Spartans in a game that featured a comeback from a 6-1 sixth-inning deficit, highlighted by Noah Irwin’s bases-loaded triple.

Complete-game shutouts tossed by Colby Barr and Chad Cousins, respectively, in their final two games — 5-0 over the Pickering Red Sox and 10-0 over the Whitby Chiefs in the final — gave the Thunder the championship on Sunday.

“Strong defence and timely hitting led to the back-to-back shutouts,” Leeman said. “The whole team came together Sunday. They were really engaged, and when we play like that, we are a tough team to beat.”

Kingston is expected to play its first game of the 13-team, double-knockout OBA tournament on Friday at 8 p.m. against Wyoming.