The Sarnia Brigade at the 2024 CABC Gold Bat Invitational Tournament - June 8/24 (Photo courtesy of Sarnia Brigade via Facebook)The Sarnia Brigade at the 2024 CABC Gold Bat Invitational Tournament - June 8/24 (Photo courtesy of Sarnia Brigade via Facebook)

Gold Bat Invitational a resounding success in return

The return of the Canadian Amateur Baseball Central (CABC) Gold Bat Invitational Tournament, after a 25-year hiatus, is being called a huge success.

Sarnia hosted the event this past weekend, featuring 12 of the best Senior AAA teams from across the province.

The hometown Sarnia Brigade captured the silver medal, falling just short in Sunday's championship game, 5-3 against the Newmarket Hawks.

The Brigade advanced to the final with victories over the Windsor A's (11-4), Etobicoke Rangers (5-4), Leaside Leafs (11-0), and Thornhill Reds (10-7).

Brigade Manager James Grant said the atmosphere at the local ball diamonds was amazing, as fans came out to show their support.

"It was interesting because it was two-fold," said Grant. "You really wanted your ball team to do well but then, on top of that, you really wanted the tournament to do well in its first year. The city exceeded expectations with the amount of people that went. We sold out everything at the concession stands all weekend, I've never seen anything like it. There were fans for every game, and on top of that we made it to the final. It's good to know that we're still in the mix."

Grant said the visiting teams really enjoyed the weekend, and it's hoped this will be an annual tradition in Sarnia.

"They loved it," he said. "They're all going to be back next year and we've already had teams reaching out to take part in next year's event as well. That means it's going to be bigger, and that's exactly where were wanted to go."

Grant said the event wouldn't have been possible without the countless volunteers who helped things run smoothly.

"A big shoutout to Jim Bigras and the grounds crew at Errol Russell Park," said Grant. "The volunteers kept the ballpark playable after so much rain. That wouldn't happen elsewhere. We have people that love baseball in Sarnia that made sure we got the tournament in. Everyone is really thankful for that."

The Brigade's Kyle Maloney was named the tournament's top hitter, while Newmarket's Tyler Lansley captured MVP honours.

The Gold Bat Invitational was last held in 1999.

It ended after the Juvenile division was dropped by Baseball Ontario.

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