Newmarket Baseball Association U22 AAA shortstop Reid Lunney called his team’s run in the Baseball Ontario elimination tournament a “crazy experience.”
The squad rattled off six straight wins in the tournament July 21 to 25, including four comebacks. The run earned the team a chance to play at the nationals.
“It was definitely pretty exciting,” he said. “Everything just came together when it really mattered.”
The team will compete at the Baseball Canada National Championships in Halifax Aug. 3 to 8 as one of only two teams from Ontario. It will be the first time since 2015 that the local baseball association will send a team to nationals.
Lunney was part of that 2015 squad, which was a U13 team. He said this time will be much more exciting for him.
“We’re all a little older and kind of understand everything more,” he said. “You really take everything in a lot more when you’re older.”
The Hawks competed against 22 other teams at the provincial tournament to earn their place in nationals. They went 6-0 in round-robin play, winning 5-4 vs Stratford, 12-2 over Etobicoke, 15-0 over Mississauga North #2, 11-8 over Guelph and 11-7 over Tecumseh. They earned their ticket to Halifax with a walk-off 4-3 win vs Mississauga North #1 but fell short of a gold-medal finish with a loss to Kitchener.
Coach Doug Lunney, Reid's father, said he was proud of the team’s performance.
“They just really came together,” he said. “A nice experience for the boys and the families, and certainly for all of us to be part of that. It’s tough to do, and not something everyone gets the chance to do.”
For some, it was their last chance. The coach shouted out the three senior players who will reach the big stage in their last years of junior baseball: Ethan Murdy, Logan McKnight and Jordan Howse.
“All of (them) have contributed to the success of this year’s team and to the Newmarket’s junior program,” Lunney said.
The team will now get ready to fly off to Halifax, where they will take on teams from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island. They will forfeit the chance to play in their area league playoffs to do so, though Lunney said it’s a fine trade-off.
“We have as good a chance as anybody,” Lunney said of nationals. “We hit amazing this past weekend, so hopefully that continues. And our pitching staff is pretty strong.”
Reid Lunney has played with the association since he was four years old, with all kinds of different success, he said. He now plays for Brock University during the school year.
The family-like culture has kept him in the game playing, he said.
“Just having the whole family atmospheres around,” he said. “That’s made me just want to stay in Newmarket and play here.”