Bulldogs 13UAA squad wins provincial title


  • <p>Celebrating a provincial title. The 13UAA Bridgewater Bulldogs won the provincial championship in the eight-team competition in Yarmouth over the Labour Day long weekend. Members of the team, in front, from left to right are, Thomas Vanie, Kaleb Merry, Henryk Tenwolde, Parker McKenzie, Noah Trotter, Jax Oickle. Centre row, bat boy Aiden Merrill, Ethan Merrill, Elizabeth Corkum, Holden Smith, Hanley Vaughn, Nate Meisner and Josh Jacobs. Back row, Barbora Izquierdo, Barry Gillis, Tim Merry, Cory Oickle, Devon Corkum, Julio Fernandez and Dennis Woodworth.</p>

BRIDGEWATER - The Bridgewater Bulldogs are getting set to host the best-of-the-best 13UAA baseball players for the Atlantic Canadian championships this weekend.

The team, as hosts, did have an automatic bye into the five-team championship. But they did not settle for that.

So, they went out and won the eight-team provincial championships held in Yarmouth Sept. 1 to 3.

They do enter the Atlantics as hosts, however, while the second-place provincial finalists, go in as Nova Scotia representatives.

Other championship teams coming to the Atlantic championships will be from Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

The tournament kicks-off Friday morning and continues to championship Sunday. The Bulldogs will play their first game at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 15. Opening ceremonies are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. followed by the Bulldogs second game at 7:30 p.m. The Bulldogs will also play Sept. 16 at 11 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. The championship game is slotted for Sept. 17 at 1 p.m. A second championship game, if needed is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

Bulldogs' Head Coach Dennis Woodworth said this is their time to come out on top.

"Three years ago, these kids lost 15-0 and 15-0 in their first doubleheader in 2021. I remember the day, it was in New Glasgow," he said. "I sat down with them and their parents and told them they were the worst team I've ever coached and they looked at me shocked. I continued and said but when I'm through with you, you will be one of the best team's I've ever coached. That's my commitment to you. My question to you is, are you going to commit to me and this coaching staff? Will you commit to what needs to be done and they said yes, and they've delivered."

The team has found a lot of success since that first doubleheader. That year they made it to the provincial semifinals and lost to New Glasgow who went on to win the Atlantic Canadians. Last year, they lost in the provincial finals to Stellarton who went on to win the Atlantic championships. "Now, this year, it's our turn."

Winning the provincial championships gives the host team a confidence boost heading into the Atlantics.

"It builds confidence. Also, three of our top five hitters, hit below average that weekend, but we still came out no top and that says a lot about a baseball team," said Woodworth, commending the entire team for their effort.

The Bulldogs kicked off the provincial tournament with an 8-7 walk-off win over the hosts from Yarmouth. The Bulldogs were behind 7-6 going into the bottom of the seventh, but were able to pull it off.

The next game was against Oxford.

"We were thinking if we win that game, we don't really have to win the third game to get into the playoffs," he commented.

The team, however, ended up losing 13-8 and headed into game three in a must-win situation and they were able to shake off the defeat and come back with a strong 18-5, mercy rule win.

This gave them a second-seed placing for the tournament heading into the semifinals, against Antigonish.

"Our pitching was getting skinny and I knew. I used the theme of the 'others' with the team all season, the Shaquille O'Neal story when he said that he would never have won a championship without the others," he explained. "I used that them all year with the guys. I said look, the others are going to win this. Yes, your horses are going to play, but the others are going to grind it out. Sure enough there we were."

In the semifinals, the Bulldogs were up 10-0 in the fifth inning with Noah on the mound and Woodworth was thinking it was a matter of getting three out and the game would be over.

However, Antigonish was able to score three runs and keep the game going and they continued to chip away at the lead until they had come within two in the final inning.

"It was the bottom of the seventh, the score was 10-8 with runners on second and third base with two outs," said Woodworth. "If you think that we're going to get an out, then we're going to get an out. Thoughts become things. When you think about it, it manifests itself. The next batter hit a line drive to the second baseman and the game was over."

The Bulldogs had little time to prepare for the championship final, about 12 minutes, against Tri-County. That little bit of time did not affect them, as they cruised to a 14-4, mercy-rule victory to capture the banner.

"The weekend did not go exactly according to play, but the idea of everyone contributing certainly happened," said Woodworth.

"To see them work as hard as they have for these three years...this is our opportunity to prove to a lot of people that when you do work hard towards something, when you do put the work in both physically and intellectually, it pays off."

Pitching depth is key to success in any tournament. The Bulldogs have a bevy of pitchers, but you can never have enough.

Teams are allowed to pick up two players from other teams for the Atlantic championships. The Bulldogs have picked up pitcher Paydn Boyle from Hammonds Plains, who is familiar to most of the players, to solidify the pitching. They may also pick-up another player prior to the weekend.

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