Undefeated in their home tournament in June, the Tillsonburg Old Sox peaked early in the 2014 oldtimer baseball season.
And they're still peaking.
The Old Sox kept their winning streak alive coming from behind to win the 35-plus division of the July 19-20 Dufferin Simcoe Oldtimer Baseball Tournament. Tillsonburg played its first two games against Dufferin Simcoe Braves and Walsingham Senators in Creemore, then finished with two games in Lisle, west of Barrie.
Loaded with familiar faces, the only 'new' player on the Old Sox roster this year, so far, has been 50-year-old Don Clark, from Listowel.
"He came back, he was with us years ago. I would say six, seven years," said Sam Lamb. "He's still in good shape."
Old Sox 4,Dufferin Simcoe 2
Mike Peever belted a one-out two-run homer with Derek Partlo on board in the fourth inning to give Tillsonburg a 3-0 lead.
Host Dufferin Simcoe scored two in the last two innings, and loaded the bases in the seventh, but the Old Sox held on for the victory.
Tillsonburg's Shawn Kivell added insurance in the fifth, stealing home. Don Clark had plated Jon Nunn in the third for the first Old Sox run.
Old Sox 10,Walsingham 2
Walsingham led 2-1 after two complete. Tyler Lamb hit a three-run homer for Tillsonburg in a five-run third inning to put the Old Sox ahead.
Old Sox 4, Scarborough 3
Scoreless through the first three innings, Scarborough scored one in the top of the seventh to knot the score at 3-3. In the bottom half, Clark hit a one-out single, advanced on a Scarborough error, and scored the winner on a John Lierman single.
Old Sox 9, Scarborough 8
"We were behind 8-2 going into the seventh," noted Old Sox Sam Lamb. "Five or six straight hits and a walk and an error. Scarborough kind of ran out of pitching and they (Tillsonburg) hit real well, I heard, in the last inning."
Clark, MVP of the game, was brought in to pitch the bottom of the seventh and put three straight Scarborough batters down, preserving the one-run lead.
The Old Sox will be tested this weekend at the Canadian National Oldtimers Baseball Federation national championships in Brampton.
"We're going to have a new guy in the tournament," Sam Lamb smiled. "Mike Meyers is coming in to play with us in Brampton – he's 36 now. Mike's a college teacher in Illinois-Iowa and coaches baseball. He's not playing now, but he did play for the (Inter-County) Brantford Red Sox the last two years. He's not playing this year – too much travelling.
"So we got hold of him and he expressed interest in going with us. He hasn't played for a year or so, but he should be in good shape."
The Tillsonburg pitcher left Tillsonburg Minor Baseball after his first bantam season to play for the London Badgers, and was later drafted by the MLB Chicago Cubs. Meyers played for minor league teams in the Cubs, New York Mets and Milwaukee Brewers systems, including six seasons at the AAA level.
"His dad, Greg, played with the Old Sox too, years ago," Lamb noted. "So Mike's one of our new additions and I think he should help us."
Terry Lammens, who joined the Old Sox for the 2013 nationals, is also returning for the Brampton tournament.
"He (Lammens) is a centre fielder," said Lamb.
"They're all going and they're all looking forward to it. The last practice is Wednesday night. We're going down there Thursday because we play at 9:30 Friday morning, then the guys are coming back Friday afternoon after their second game. We don't play again until Saturday evening at 5:30 p.m."
The Old Sox kick off the 14-team 35-plus tournament against Brampton Black Pioneers. Then it's Scarborough, another familiar rival, and on Saturday Petit De Grat Red Caps from Nova Scotia, a team that beat Tillsonburg 2-0 in the 2009 national finals.
The top eight teams will be grouped into Tier 1, followed by quarter-finals, and the bottom six into Tier II.
"Hopefully we'll be one of the eight in Tier 1," said Lamb, figuring the Old Sox are poised to have a good tournament.
In addition to Meyers on the mound, they have Brian Kempster and Clark pitching.
"Trevor (Lamb) is playing really well this year, and we've got his brother this year. Tyler just turned 35. We've got (Shawn) Crane, and (Ryan) Balazs. Derek Barnard, Derek Partlo... they're all looking forward to it."
The Old Sox finish the 2014 season at the provincials in Oakville, Sept. 27-28.