Thibideau does everything but drive Nova Scotia bus
* Chris Thibideau helped the Tri-County Rangers win the Nova Scotia eliminations and stayed on a roll when his province opened the Canada Cup with a 5-2 win against New Brunswick ….
By Todd Devlin
LONDON — Chris Thibideau wasted little time making a name for himself at this year’s Baseball Canada Cup.
The 17-year-old dealt the first blow for Nova Scotia Wednesday afternoon with a triple to centre in his first at bat of the day. The drive gave his club an early 1-0 lead over New Brunswick and marked the beginning of a big day for the shortstop, who led his team to a 5-2 win in the tournament opener for both squads.
Thibideau finished the game 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs and a stolen base, and was nearly as good deflecting any praise to his teammates.
“The team played real well,” the shortstop said. “Both teams pitched well, but ours was better. And our defense was good. We really came out to play.”
But it was Thibideau who led the charge, and his performance helped Nova Scotia get off to a strong start at this year’s championships. Head coach Jim Mosher wasn’t surprised that it was Thibideau who stepped up early for his ballcub.
“I wouldn’t expect anything less from him,” Mosher said. “He’s been a great kid and a leader here. He’s quiet, but he leads by example and he’s been doing that all year.”
This year’s Nova Scotia club has several returnees from last year, so Mosher says there’s no shortage of talent on his squad. But is Thibideau the premier player of the group?
“Well, you can be the judge of that,” Mosher said with a grin. “But he plays shortstop, bats third and also pitches. So he’s certainly a guy that we count on.”
Following his first inning triple, Thibideau delivered an RBI single in the third and added a bloop single in the seventh. He also provided perhaps the defensive highlight of the ballgame in the sixth.
With one out and a runner on second, New Brunswick’s Corey Ouellette lined a ball sharply up the middle. After second baseman Matt Mingo (Onslow Mountain, NS) dove and knocked the ball down, Thibideau quickly retrieved it and fired a strike to first for the inning’s second out.
“I don’t really know what I was thinking there,” the shortstop said with a laugh. “I decided to grab the ball and throw it, I guess.”
It was the kind of heads up play that Mosher has come to expect from the veteran Thibideau, who is playing in his third Canada Cup event. The 17-year-old batted .308 in five games at last year’s tournament in New Brunswick.
Nova Scotia finished 4-2 in 2011, but fell short of qualifying for the playoff round. Mosher says they’re hoping to advance to that round this year.
“It’s one game at a time, but certainly with the talent we have here I think our goal is to make the crossover,” the coach said. “We have a lot of the same guys back, so we’re pretty solid.”
If they are successful, they’ll have to do battle with some of the more powerful baseball provinces in Canada like British Columbia, Ontario Alberta or Quebec.
Thibideau is familiar with the level of talent found on those upper echelon teams, as he is a member of the Vauxhall Baseball Academy along with Nova Scotia teammates Jesse Borden (Dartmouth, NS) and J.G. Weeks (Dartmouth, NS).
In facing those teams, Thibideau says his ballclub will have to keep it simple
“You have to play the same way you play everybody else,” he said. “You can’t try to rise above everybody else’s level. You have to play the same way.”