The Holy Cross Crusaders have won the 2022 Kingston Area Secondary School Athletic Association (KASSAA) baseball championship, defeating Regiopolis-Notre Dame 5-3 in the finals at Woodbine Park on the afternoon of Monday, Jun. 13, 2022.
With Jack White and Jack Leonard sharing the pitching duties, the Crusaders got on the scoreboard in the third inning, scoring three runs. Regi answered back in the fourth with three runs of their own, tying things at 3-3.
Holy Cross once again took control of the game in the fifth inning, putting up two more runs to lead 5-3. After a scoreless sixth inning, the Crusaders clinched the victory.
Head coach Tony Clarke said the championship win was a special one for his players, many of whom have been waiting several years to get to this moment. “It means a lot to this group of kids because a lot of them really haven’t experienced KASSAA baseball before… So having them just playing meant a lot, but winning makes it extra special.”
Monday’s game marked the first KASSAA baseball final since 2018. Poor field conditions forced organizers to cancel the end of the season in 2019. Less than one year later, the COVID-19 pandemic put a pause on all high school sports until September 2021, making this year’s final a long time coming.
According to Clarke, only a couple of players with KASSAA baseball experience were able to return to this year’s team, forcing the coaches to build an entirely new roster. “In the past [we built] our teams over the years, and we tend to bring in a few grade nines every year, and they kind of mature. But this year, only having two [players] remaining, we had a lot of spots to fill.
“Thinking back to 2019, we were undefeated that that year… To not be able to compete [in a final]… kind of sucked. But this was a special year… There was a good crop of kids that came to Holy Cross as baseball players,” added Clarke.
With the victory, the Crusaders capped an undefeated 2022 campaign, beating cross-town rivals Regi for the second time this season. Holy Cross earned its spot in the championship game with a decisive 7-1 victory against Bayridge in the semifinals last Wednesday. In total, the Crusaders played eight games this season, outscoring their opponents by 67 to 15, a remarkable achievement for any high school team.
Holy Cross and Regi also faced each other in this year’s Eastern Ontario Secondary School Athletic Association (EOSSA) qualification game, with Holy Cross winning that contest as well. “It was an extra-inning game, so [that] made it tight. So, to be able to play them again and win [means] a lot,” Clarke said.
In recent years, the Crusaders have dominated high school baseball in Kingston, establishing a winning tradition which helped boost the team’s chances this season. “We had a good team back in 2011 [and] 2012, where we won back-to-back KASSAA championships, and then kind of rebuilding from there. We won it in 2017 [and] 2018,” said the coach.
“[There was] a good chance we were [going to] win in 2019… and then 2020 and 21, no seasons because of COVID. So, we built a tradition of winning, and I think that helps.”
With their latest championship, Holy Cross has won the KASSAA title six times since 2011, and the team will no doubt be contenders once the 2023 campaign kicks off next spring.