Three wins each for Quebec, Ontario as midget, junior nationals open
* Larry Balkwill (Chatham) was 3-for-3 at the plate with three RBIs as Ontario 1 knocked off Manitoba 14-4 as the junior championships began ….
By Ryan Morissette
It’s the beginning of a busy weekend of baseball in the province of Québec.
The Baseball Canada junior elimination tournament kicked off in Trois-Rivières while the midget nationals began play in Québec City. A recap of the games currently completed on Day 1.
Manitoba 11 New Brunswick 4
Manitoba started the tournament on a winning note with a decisive 11-4 victory over New Brunswick. Its offense needed no warm-up, pounding out 16 hits contributing to the 11 runs. Shortstop Elliot Desilets (Elie) scored four runs and fell a home run shy of hitting for the cycle to lead the Manitoba attack. Jeff McCarthy (Mirimachi) led New Brunswick with two RBIs.
Nova Scotia 3 Ontario (2) 1
Tied 1-1 heading into the last inning, Nova Scotia pulled away with two runs and then held on to defeat Ontario 2 by a 3-1 margin. Leadoff hitter Codey Shrider (Dartmouth) was the difference maker in this game as he delivered two hits and drove in two runs. Pitchers Brandon MacKinnon (Cole Harbour) and Eric Carducci (Tecumseh) were tremendous for their respective teams as they both threw complete games.
Ontario (1) 14 Manitoba 4
Trailing 3-0 before even getting an at-bat, Ontario turned up the heat to smack out 14 runs in a triumph over Manitoba. Larry Balkwill (Chatham) had a big game to remember, going a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate with three RBIs and four runs scored. Mark Hildebrand (Winkler) had two hits and two runs scored for Manitoba.
Saskatchewan 5 Newfoundland and Labrador 1
Saskatchewan took advantage of some questionable defense as all five of their runs were unearned, leading to the four run victory over Newfoundland and Labrador. Catcher Scott Mostoway (Saskatoon) scored three of his teams runs and was also strong behind the plate. Pitcher Giles Virgin (Regina) struck out 12 batters over six innings to earn the win.
Québec 5 Nova Scotia 1
This game was turning into a battle between starting pitchers until Québec broke a scoreless tie with four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning off Samuel Groleau’s one out grand slam. Simon Brisbois (Mascouche) relieved starter Roberton Zapata (Brossard) after the fifth inning and shut Nova Scotia down to help his team pick up the win.
Trois-Rivières 11 BC 1
The hosts came swinging right out of the gate with five runs in the opening frame en route to the 11-1 victory. Four players had at least to hits for Three Rivers, led by Miguel Comtois’ three. Starter Dany Paradis (Levis) lasted 5 1/3 innings, striking out nine batters in the process.
Ontario 9 Québec City 7
Ontario came out with the victory in what was a back-and-forth game to open the midget championship. Extra innings seemed inevitable, but Ontario scored two runs in their last at-bat to emerge as the winners. Nolan Anderson (London) had three hits and two RBIs at the plate and then went on to pitch the final two innings to earn the victory for his club.
New Brunswick 7 Manitoba 4
Manitoba dug themselves a hole early and couldn’t climb back en route dropping their opening game 7-4. New Brunswick built a comfortable 6-0 lead heading into the top of the third inning thanks to a five run outburst only an inning earlier. Shortstop Tanner Banks (Fredericton) had two hits and two runs scored in a total team effort.
Alberta 12 PEI 0
Alberta defined the term ‘total team effort’ with a mercy victory over PEI, scoring at least one run in each of the six innings and their two pitchers combined to throw a no hitter. Kurtis Taylor (Okotoks) threw the first four innings while Brendan Rose (Calgary) pitched the last two to secure the win. Centre fielder Layne Currie led the way offensively with two hits, two RBI and two runs scored.
Saskatchewan 4 Newfoundland and Labrador 3
A three-run third inning helped catapult Saskatchewan to a tight one run victory over Newfoundland and Labrador. Canada’s most eastern province made things interesting in their last at-bat scoring one run until relief pitcher Kolten Olynek (Saskatoon) struck out the final batter to make his team victorius. Brandon Beaudin-Herney (Regina) went a perfect 3/3 for Saskatchewan.
Ontario 1 New Brunswick 0
Chris McQueen’s run in the bottom of the first inning was all Ontario needed as they shut down New Brunswick. Starter Matthew Smith (London) was steady for Ontario, lasting five innings while only giving up two hits. Alex Somers (London) and Andrew Warner (London) pitched an inning each of relief to wrap up the win. Devin Thomas (St. John) had two hits for New Brunswick.
BC 6, Quebec 3
A four run outburst in the top of the fourth inning helped lead BC to an eventual 6-3 victory over Québec. Both teams were sluggish to begin the tournament as they committed four errors each that led to unearned runs for both sides. As well, both offenses were led by a well-balanced attack as different players scored all nine runs in the game. Brandon Kirk (Richmond) pitched two scoreless innings to earn the win.
Manitoba 3 Newfoundland and Labrador 2
Derek Millar (Oak Bluff) broke a late 2-2 tie in the bottom of the sixth inning when he scored on a balk, and Eric Benson (Oak Bluff) went the distance to defeat Newfoundland and Labrador by a count of 3-2. Millar singled with one and eventually found his way to third base when the balk was called allowing him to score. Leadoff hitter Jay Warford (Corner Brook) had two hits and an RBI in the loss.
Alberta 10 Nova Scotia 9
Roberto Valdez (Chestermere) saved his best hit for last, driving in the game-winning run with a two out single in the seventh inning. The hit capped off a perfect day at the plate for Valdez, who finished the game 3-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Brayden MacQuarrie (Sackville, NS) had three hits and two RBI for Nova Scotia.
Québec City 2 Saskatchewan 0
While it was at times a grind, three Québec City pitchers combined to shut down the Saskatchewan offense by a 2-0 score. Overall, Québec City stranded eleven base runners while holding their opponents to only three hits in the game. David Glaude (Québec) picked up the win for his team.
The Junior sees teams from all over Canada competing for a national championship.
Three Rivers, as the city can also be called, is a city rich in tradition, having hosted the Junior Worlds as well as the Cincinnati Reds double-A affiliate. The host team from Trois-Rivières, les Aigles Plante Sports, is celebrating their 40th anniversary and will be looking to conquer the competition in their special season.
“Trois-Rivières is a baseball town and its residents always come out and support in large numbers,” said Carole Béliveau, chairperson of the organizing committee. “At the last championships held in 2010, a total of 13,789 spectators passed through the gates.”
Ten teams will battle for supremacy beginning in round robin play. The tournament is divided into two pools, A and B, with five teams in each pool. BC, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Ontario #1 and the host les Aigles from Trois-Rivères will form Pool A, while Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario #2, Saskatchewan and Québec round out Pool B.
Games will be played at Martin Bergeron Field as well as the historic Three Rivers Stadium
“Three Rivers Stadium is one of the finest stadiums in all of Canada; it’s a historical monument,” added Béliveau. “Built in 1938, it can accommodate 4,300 spectators, and recently underwent renovations in 2009,” said Béliveau, explaining the stadium’s background.
The Midget nationals features 11 teams, including one team from each province as well as the host team.
While many hosts look at these types of tournaments as a way to generate a buzz within the region, these tournament organizers see other opportunities as well.
“For us, this championship provides an opportunity to promote youth baseball within the city,” said André Simard, heavily involved in the organizing committee. “Québec City has a history of over 400 years and new volunteers are always attracted to our organization.”
Due to the odd number of teams, six teams will play out of Pool A and five teams out of Pool B. The six teams in Pool A are made up of Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, Québec City and Saskatchewan, while the five teams in Pool B consists of Alberta, BC, Nova Scotia, PEI and Québec.
Note: Every game from the Junior and Midget National Championships can be followed LIVE at Pointstreak. For further information on the competing teams, schedules and standings for the Junior tournament, please click HERE; for the Midget championship click HERE.