The South Dundas Senior Pioneers claimed the Upper Canada Senior Little League championship on Saturday, August 9, in Kemptville with an exciting 7-6 win over Brockville in the final.
“It was nip and tuck the whole game,” says coach Ernie Beckstead. “It was a really, good game of ball.”
After finishing the regular season in second place, the Pioneers met Kemptville in semi-final playoff action in Kemptville and came up with a decisive 14-3 victory. That put them in the Saturday final against Brockville.
“We had them 4-2 then 5-2,” says Beckstead, “but they came back and made it 5-4.”
Beckstead had used his pitching options strategically which enabled him to keep his top producing pitcher of the season, Spencer Heldens, for the final inning.
The Pioneers went into the top of the seventh with the objective to hold on to their 7-6 lead. It was tense and it was exciting, says Beckstead.
“I pulled Spencer [Heldens] aside before we started the inning and told him it was in his hands.”
“We actually started the inning shaky on a routine grounder to third. Smithy [Aaron] took a little too much time getting rid of the ball and ended up throwing high. That put a runner on base with none out.”
“The next batter hit one up the middle and Cole [Beckstead] made an unbelievable play on his forehand. He tossed it up to second, and Adam [Lapier] made a nice catch reaching for the ball while managing to keep his foot on the bag. That gave us one out with a runner still on first base.”
Heldens struck out the next batter, and the final out was on a grounder to second with Lapier throwing out the runner at first.
“We had a really good team and the boys improved a lot of the summer. I had excellent pitching and an all-star infield. Unfortunately the weather was awful. We missed a lot of games because of rain.”
The Pioneers pitching staff included junior pitchers Lucas Bennis and Adam Lapier. Spencer Heldens was the main senior pitcher with Aaron Smith, Cole Beckstead and Quinn Bennis all seeing some time on the mound.
Quinn Bennis was catcher, Josh Black was at first, Adam Lapier and Jonah Bennis alternated at second, Aaron Smith played third and Cole Beckstead was at shortstop. Outfielders included Johnny Testerink, Isaac Cummins, Johnathon Mayhew and Mathew Backes, who says Beckstead “was the best number eight hitter in the league.”
In the dugout with Beckstead was assistant coach Jamie Smith and working hard for the team at the championship weekend was Jordan Lowe.
The senior little league ball age runs from 14-16 years old. The Pioneers had a good mix of ages and will only lose two players for next year, Spencer Heldens and Josh Black.
“I’ve coached these kids a lot growing up, and they have really improved. They are now young men, and I could see this year that what I’ve taught them they have carried with them.”
The Pioneers are made up of players from South Dundas and should be strong again next year. Their interest and dedication bodes well for the future of ball.