O’Neill reminds some of Brett Lawrie
* BC SS Tyler O’Neill is upended at second base during the gold medal game against Ontario ….
By Bob Elliott
LONDON, Ont. _ He has the same barrel chest.
He has the same actions.
Tyler O’Neill could pass for Brett Lawrie as a teenager.
“He has the body, he has the same look,” said British Columbia coach Doug Mathieson, who also coached Lawrie with the Langley Blaze. “And he’s quick.”
O’Neill has run a 6.6 60-yard dash.
Mathieson was commenting before Ontario played BC in the gold medal game at Labatt Memorial Park.
Like Lawrie who started out as a shortstop, moved behind the plate his draft year and eventually played second base when the Milwaukee Brewers selected him in the first round in 2008.
O’Neill was a catcher but had a hernia surgery.
“The doctor thought it would be best he’d play another position,” said Mathieson, “so he’s a shortstop now … probably the best shortstop in the BC Premier League.
Once the ump yelled play ball, O’Neill hit like Lawrie: going 4-for-4 with three doubles … and he ran the bases like Lawrie too … getting thrown out at third base for the first out of the sixth.
O’Neill hit .500 (13-for-26) with four doubles, three homers and 11 RBIs.
Griffin Andreychuk also hit .500 (11-for-22) with a homer and four RBIs. In all, BC had seven hitters with others going to: Dawson Yates, who two, while batting .414 (12-for-29) with 13 RBIs, Lachlan Fontaine who hit one while batting .240 (6-for-25) with seven RBIs.
B.C. coached by Canadian Hall of Famer John Harr, Cav Whitely, Mathieson and head coach Gautam Srivastava, took a 3-1 lead into the fourth thanks to a pair of doubles by O’Neill and the strong right arm of Connor Noble.
Ontario’s Matt Deneau, Josh Williams, Zachary Lampreia and Daniel Bignall all singled, the first two left the infield, the second two did not, cutting B.C.’s lead to 3-2 game.
Noble retired the first two hitters atop the Ontario lineup and had a 1-2 count on Collymore before his liner over the head of centre fielder Shoma Sasaki.
Noble was a work horse pitching 12 2/3 innings in four games, making three starts. He walked three and fanned 20.
Clark Grisbrook pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings.
Ontario scored four unearned runs in the fifth, the final two coming on third baseman Collymore’s single to left.
Semi-finals: Yates hit a grand slam to overcome a 4-3 deficit and power B.C. to a 6-4 win over Quebec. Liam Stroud worked an inning of relief for the win … Justin Orton had four hits including a double and a triple as Ontario beat Manitoba 13-3.
Bronze: Antoine Tellier pitched six innings allowing one run as Quebec beat Manitoba. Ercia Bastida Nelson had three hits, including a triple and knocked in two runs, while Raphael Gladu had two doubles and Philippe Berthiaume had two singles. Eric Swanson had a pair of hits for Manitoba.
MVP: Rain tried to mess with the Canada Cup schedule but the work of the grounds keepers led by Mike Ready and Scott Preece got things on schedule batting rain every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Only three games were played Saturday.
Best arm in the park: Well, he wasn’t from either Ontario or British Columbia. Major league scouts were impressed with lefty Myles Vincent of Corner Brook, Nfld. Vincent’s fastball was clocked at 89 MPH. He lost his only start against Saskatchewan allowing five runs on five hits and six walks in 6 2/3 innings. He fanned 11. Vincent, coached by Frank Humber, former Los Angeles Dodgers farmhand, was added to the Canadian Junior National Team roster the first from the island since Ronnie Sweeney in 2003 and Troy Croft in 1991.
Award winners: Collymore won best offensive player of the tourney hitting .586 (12-for-21) with four doubles, two triples and 14 RBIs, including five in the gold medal game.
Deneau threw out two BC runners at third as he earned top catching hounors.
Lefty J.P. Stevenson of Prince Edward Island earned the top pitching honours. Stevenson was 2-0 in two starts with a 1.00 ERA, striking out 13 in 14 innings.
On the sidelines: Third baseman Charles Leblanc (Laval, Que.) didn’t see much playing time as he’s suffering from the same wrist injury as Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista.