Cannon Cup: Amateur Baseball Alive in Ontario
The prestigious Cannon Cup, the final tournament of the year for Ontario Baseball Association (OBA) and its affiliates, took place on the weekend in Oakville with 13 all-star teams competing for the trophy named in memory of the late Mike Cannon, an enthusiastic supporter of Ontario amateur baseball, a resident of Oakville and the Jays' first traveling secretary.
Inter-County, trailing 4-3 against Hamilton in the championship game on Sunday, loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the seventh inning. With the game on the line, ICBA received a towering walk-off grand slam into the trees behind the right field fence at Oakville Park by DH Justin Interisano. The 7-4 win was the sixth Cannon Cup championship for Inter-County in the 15-years history of the event.
Interisano in the semis and finals, combined, was 3-for-5 with two doubles, a homer and six RBIs. Starter Michael Gatchene worked six solid innings with no decision. Cudey Howard picked up the win in relief, working out of a jam in the top of the seventh to keep the deficit at just one, setting up the slam.
Highlighting the 29 games of the Cannon Cup weekend, featuring 13 all-star teams of 18 and under Midgets from around the province, eventual champion Inter-County beat Oakville 7-2 in one semi-final while Hamilton reached the championship game with a 7-3 win over Georgetown. Oakville advanced to the Final Four, entering its own team for the first time in Cup history, competing with two all-star teams from its parent Central Ontario Baseball Association (COBA).
The quality of baseball in the Cannon Cup demonstrated to me that despite the pessimism of many concerning the state of the amateur game in Ontario, there is still significant talent and enthusiasm for playing baseball across the province. The next step in a baseball renaissance as a game of interest for young teenagers is for the Blue Jays to reach the post-season again and bring back the next tier of young athletes that may have lost interest in the sport at the same time their parents did after the major-league strike in '94 and the Jays' 15-year struggle to repeat their World Series exploits of the early '90s.
Congratulations to Inter-County and manager Jeff Amos and to the other semi-final managers, Hamilton's Larry Wood, Oakville's Doug Stirling and Georgetown's Bill Byckowski.