By Cody Malloy
Day 3 of Tournament 12 saw more round-robin action. Here is a recap Wednesday’s six games:
Game 1: Prairies-Purple defeated Quebec-Blue, 3-2
In a nail-biter, Prairies-Purple managed to add the extra run needed to put Quebec-Blue away in the top of the seventh inning.
Quebec-Blue pitchers William Sierra (Montreal Orioles), Marc Antoine Lebreux (Laval Associes) and David Metivier (Ailes de Quebec) combined to allow two earned runs over four hits, striking out five.
Quebec-Blue right fielder Isaac Deveaux (Montreal Giants) went 1-for-3 with an RBI groundout and a walk. Marc Tremblay (Ailes de Quebec) also had an RBI groundout, which occurred in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Denis Boucher (Lachine Baseball), who is on the Quebec-Blue coaching staff, said, “The pitchers did their jobs. We made a few mental mistakes defensively. The pitchers battled, they did well.”
Prairies-Purple pitchers Branden Hatley (Vauxhall Academy) and Jared Spearing (Winnipeg South Chiefs) combined for two earned runs on three hits, striking out seven hitters.
In an exciting seventh inning for Prairies-Purple, third baseman Travis Horanski (Langley Blaze) got things started by hitting a one-out triple. With two outs, first baseman Danny Berg (Saskatoon Giants) slugged another triple to bring Horanksi home, giving the Prairies-Purple a late one-run lead.
Game 2: Alberta-Red defeated BC-Orange, 2-1
BC-Orange got things started in the top of the first inning, with Lenn Nakatsuka (Victoria Eagles) scoring on Tyler Duncan’s (Victoria Eagles) RBI single to right field. After BC-Orange took a quick 1-0 lead, no runners managed to cross the plate until the bottom of the seventh inning.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Clayton Keyes (Okotoks Dawgs) managed to drive in Nick Ankermann (Prairie Baseball Academy) and Aidan Huggins (Prospects Baseball Academy) to give Alberta-Red the 2-1 lead they needed to walk off to a victory.
Blue Jays Academy coach Mario Diaz loved the way that Keyes was able to put together a clutch at-bat late in the game.
“[The coaches] were talking about [Keyes] being more aggressive at the plate,” Diaz said. “I hope that the walk-off double builds his confidence for the rest of the [tournament].”
Kobe Hyland (Spruce Grove White Sox) also had an impressive day at the plate for Alberta-Red, going 2-for-4 with two stolen bases.
For BC-Orange, pitchers Jake Polancic (Langley Blaze), Sam Shoemaker (North Shore Twins) and Corey Jackson (Abbotsford Cardinals) totaled six strikeouts.
BC-Orange shortstop Kobe Morris (Victoria Eagles) made a remarkable run-saving play on a groundball up the middle. Morris managed to spin around 360 degrees before throwing the runner out at first base.
Alberta-Red pitchers Kyle Prather (Sherwood Park Athletics) and Jalen Lane (Vauxhall Academy) combined for one earned run over five hits.
Blue Jays Academy coach Sandy Alomar noticed how the pitchers in this matchup were throwing even harder than he’s used to seeing.
“The pitching was definitely good for both teams,” Alomar said.
Alomar also noticed how some players were trying too much to impress the scouts.
“I always tell people, live to express, not impress,” Alomar said. “When you impress, you’re actually going to put pressure on yourself.”
Game 3: Atlantic-Maroon defeated Quebec-Blue, 11-1
Atlantic-Maroon managed to redeem itself after a rough day yesterday, as the squad beat a tough Quebec-Blue team by 10 runs this afternoon. The game lasted only five innings after the 10-run lead mercy rule came into effect.
Atlantic-Maroon pitcher Dominic Tardif (Metro Mudcats) struck out seven batters over five innings of work.
First baseman Jake Sanford (Dartmouth Junior AAA) slugged five RBIs for Atlantic-Maroon. Sanford went 3-for-4 with two triples, one double and two runs scored.
Atlantic-Maroon shortstop Declan Buckle’s (Team New Brunswick) defensive abilities caught people’s attention.
“I used to not be a very good hitter at all… defence was my game,” Buckle said.
To improve, Buckle has studied other teams’ hitters by watching other games before he plays.
“I like to see where the hitters like to hit the ball,” Buckle said. “Anticipate the ball off the bat, see the bat plane come through the zone… be on your toes every play. You can’t take a play off.”
After a rough day for Atlantic-Maroon yesterday, Buckle said that his team was “hungry for a win” today. Atlantic-Maroon coach Jason Dickson (Team New Brunswick) agreed with Buckle on the mindset of his players.
“We talked to them yesterday about managing nerves. They were pretty nervous,” Dickson said. “The beauty of this game is that you get right back at it right away. [We told them to] celebrate today. Good win, good individual performances, but tomorrow you get to start all over again.”
Game 4: BC-Orange defeated Ontario-Green, 10-6
If you looked at the hits column after this game, you’d think the final score would be much different than it was. BC-Orange scored 10 runs on four hits, with seven of those runs coming in the fourth inning.
Ontario-Green, on the other hand, scored six runs on 10 hits.
BC-Orange designated hitter Nakatsuka had a 2-for-4 day with a double.
In the game, the first, second and third home runs of T12 were all hit by the same team.
Center fielder Cooper Davis (Ontario Blue Jays) hit the first home run down the right-field line.
“The home run was pretty crazy,” Cooper said. “It’s pretty cool to hit a home run at a big league park, and then trot the bases like you’re David Ortiz or Bryce Harper. To be able to play at the same park as big leaguers in front of all of these scouts and colleges… is a crazy experience.”
First baseman Max Wright (Great Lake Canadians) and designated hitter Luke Van Rycheghem (Ontario Blue Jays) hit the other two home runs for Ontario-Green.
Despite their home runs on the offensive side, 14 walks over seven innings cost Ontario-Green the game against BC-Orange.
Game 5: Futures-Navy defeated Prairies-Purple, 4-1
Futures-Navy jumped to a quick 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first, which was all the team needed to win the fifth game of the day.
Futures-Navy first baseman Michael Stovman (Langley Blaze) went 1-for-2 with two RBIs. Jameson Hart (Great Lake Canadians) went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Hart also pitched the seventh inning, and he collected two strikeouts.
Futures-Navy coach Adam Stern (Great Lake Canadians) credited starting pitcher Connor Angel (Les Ailes du Quebec) with a great pitching performance. Stern also credited Futures-Navy’s offence overall.
“Our offence has been hitting well all week,” Stern said. “It’s pretty impressive from a younger group.
They piece together great at-bats, and it has kept our team in it, and the pitching today was really good.”
Stern hopes that his team can keep things rolling with an early 8 a.m. start Thursday morning against Quebec-Blue, who had a rough go in its second game earlier on Wednesday.
Game 6: Ontario-Green defeated Ontario-Black, 4-2
Both starting pitchers, Jack Berczi (Ontario Blue Jays) and Devlin Jovetic (Ontario Nationals), pitched well for their respective teams.
Berczi threw four innings with one hit and one earned run, while striking out three. Jovetic also threw four innings with one hit and two earned runs, while striking out four.
Ontario-Black was held to one hit, which came from centre fielder Lucas Parente (Great Lake Canadians).
Ontario-Green first baseman Ryan Rijo went 1-for-2 with a go-ahead two-run home run and a walk. After the game, Rijo described how it was an “honour” to play at Rogers Centre.
“Especially with how the [Blue Jays] have done this year, being able to play on the same field that they do is such an unreal experience,” Rijo said. “I’m speechless.”
When asked which particular coaches have helped him thus far, Rijo said, “Sandy [Alomar Sr.] -- Sandy’s my boy.”
Rijo explained how Alomar gave him hitting tips after he had a rough day yesterday. The young first baseman said it helped him make adjustments and improvements Wednesday.
Rijo added that he is thankful for many other coaches, as well: “[Ontario-Green coach] Chris Kemlo, and all of my [Ontario Blue Jays] coaching staff like Dan Blewais and Sean Travers, they’ve all been a big help over the years.”