Maritimes? Any time, any place, any where
* SS Evan Comeau (Waverly, N.S.) is one reason why the Maritimes Grey were the first team to lock up a berth in the Tournament 12 semi finals. PHOTO: Toronto Blue Jays/Michelle Prata. ....
DAY 2 of GAMES: MORISETTE: Day 2 Wrap
DAY 1 of GAMES: MORISETTE: Day 1 Wrap
WORKOUT DAY: Naylor goes second tank
COUTO: Lefty Stevenson starts for Maritimes …
VERGE: Camping with the Alomars
By Bob Elliott
The subject was discussed long and hard when Tournament 12 was in its infantile, planning stages.
Conversation ranged from ...
“Do we have to let a combined team from the Maritimes in?”
“Well if they’re in, will every team have to play them? No one wants to play in a lopsided games.”
Well, two days of games into the first annual Tournament 12 only one team has clinched a berth in Tuesday’s semi-finals.
Ah, and that would be ... you guessed it: Maritimes Grey.
OF-DH Corey Wood (Fredericton, NB) guessed he has been to the nationals 14 times, from peewee to junior plus the Canada Cup and the Canada Summer Games.
“A few years ago BC beat one day 16-1 in five innings, they had Tom Robson, Dustin Houle and Justin Atkinson,” said Wood of the three drafted players from the Langley Blaze.
SS Evan Comeau (Waverly, N.S.) thinks he’s been to the nationals 10 times.
“Ontario beat us 17-0 in five innings at the midgets in London in 2010,” said Comeau, the Maritimes best player.
C Mitchell Hazlett (Riverview, N.B.) has only been to the nationals three times.
“We got beat 7-0 in the Canada Summer Games playing for bronze in Sherbrooke this year,” Hazlett said. “We should have been up 2-0 because Buddy threw the ball into the stands, but the ump said our guy threw his hands in the air -- interference -- and called a double play. No runs. We had over an hour rain delay and it was still scoreless in the third. That was my worse lost.”
So, here they sat on top of the world, on top of the standings and inside the nosiest of the 10 dugouts, adjudged from seating in the action seats, after edging Ontario Green 5-4 thanks to Cody Shrider (Dartmouth, NS, FA) cutting down a runner at the plate for the second out of the seventh and Brady Arsenault (Summerside, PEI) getting the final out via the strikeout.
“There’s so much noise because of Case and all the things he says ... he’s a dummy,” said Hazlett with a smile on his face.
What does he say?
Hazlett isn’t saying.
The team of seven players from New Brunswick, six from Nova Scotia, four from Newfoundland and three from Prince Edward Island are in the unusual position of looking down are the other teams/provinces.
Coach Marl Noel or Miramichi, Major League Scouting Bureau Maritime boss Ken Lenihan, of Bedford, N.S., former minor league stud Frank Humber of Corner Brook, Nfld. and Desi Doyle of Mount Stewart, PEI put the team together with the Blue Jays scouting staff and Greg Hamilton of Baseball Canada.
Once in Toronto Jake (Carry a Big) Paddle had handled the business operations.
“Most of the guys haven’t played together, but they’ve been playing against each other for years,” said coach Jason Davis (Halifax, NS).
The roster ranges from young ‘uns like grade 10 student Jake Lonar (Colbrook, NS) and grade 11 student Blake Gallagher (Waasis, NB) to Comeau and Wood, who finished two years at the Prairie Baseball Academy Dawgs, winning back-to-back title for coach Todd Hubka -- and are now officially University of Arkansas Boll Weevils.
“I’ve never seen a guy as quick at getting to a ball,” said Hazlett of Comeau, 3-for-9 with 3 walks and one of the surest gloves in the tourney.
Comeau and Wood, who Wood describes as the two “old goats” talked to the Maritime team before the first pitch.
Comeau: “We had a good talk, we told the guys to cherish this tournament, to relax and enjoy it. I think we may have a shot at winning this.
Wood: “Some of the other teams may know each other, some may not, but for us it’s easier for us to jell coming from the same part of the country. Hey it’s the Rogers Centre. Usually we got to tournaments and we’re OK for the first and second games ... then we’re out of pitching.”
Case will likely get the ball when the games begin to matter again for the undefeated Maritimes, who opened with a 2-0 win over Ontario Black on LHP JP Stevenson (Hunter River, PEI) and Case combining on a one hitter. Stevenson pitched five scoreless and then headed back to Vauxhall Academy in Vauxhall, Alta. Case worked two innings striking out six men he faced at 91 MPH.
Next the Maritimes used three hits and 13 walks to edged Quebec Blue 9-7.
“Not a lot of people come out of the Maritimes and go on in baseball,” said Hazlett, from New Brunswick (point of reference: more people live in Mississauga than in the whole province.
Yet nine have gone on to the PBA in Lethbridge, three to the Cam Houston’s Prospects Academy in St. Albert, Alta. and three more to Vauxhall.
Looking back ... it was a good idea that the decision makers from across the country agreed to allow the Maritimes to field a team.
The Big Boppers
_ Ontario Green RF Gareth Morgan (North York, Ont. 2014) Ontario Blue Jays. Morgan struck out swinging in his first at-bat and bounced to first against LHP Jesse Borden (Dartmouth, NS, 2014) of Vauxhall, then he flew out to centre and hit a two-run single in the bottom of the seventh facing RHP Brady Arsenault (Summerside, PEI, 2014) of the PBA. Morgan fielded a lead-off single off the bat of Evan Comeau and mishandled the ball for an error with Comeau bolting to second and later scoring to key a two-run first. Two members of the Blue Jays coaching alumni were upset that Morgan had not hustled on the play.
_ Ontario Black Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ont. 2015) Ontario Blue Jays, pulled a two-run line-drive homer off the BLUEJAYS.com sign in the right field bullpen in a 9-6 win over BC Orange. He also singled in four trips.
_ Ontario Black OF Demi Orimoloye (Orleans, Ont. 2015) Ottawa-Nepean Canadians, was 2-for-3 with a walk.
_ Ontario Maroon INF Robert Byckowski (Etobicoke, Ont. 2014) Ontario Blue Jays, bounced to first, singled to third and popped out. Byckowski had dominated the first day with his bat: hitting a ground-rule double to left, a solo homer to straightaway centre and a ground-rule double to right in the first two games.
Maritimes Grey LHP Myles Vincent (Corner Brook, Nfld.), PBA, had a hitless start against Quebec Blue. That was the good news. The bad news, no make that the awful news, was that he struggled with his control walking five, hitting a man, throwing a wild pitch and allowing three runs. He also struck out five in his 48-pitch outing. Vincent attends the PBA and is ready to transfer south of the border in January.
Some others who impressed scouts and recruiters with their comments:
Prairies Brown RHP BJ Moen (Swift Current, Sask. 2015) was clocked at 84-87 MPH, touched 88 but struggled with his control allowing six runs on four hits and six walks.
"Not a good day results wise, but he has a chance down the road."
Quebec White OF Jean Francois Garon (Terrebonne, Que. 2015) Royals de Repentigny singled.
“He still has not had his best day yet.”
Futures Navy RHP Nathan Arruda (Brampton, Ont., 2015) Ontario Blue Jays pitched three innings allowing two runs on two hits and three walks.
“I like his arm a lot, he could be someone special.”
Futures Navy C Tony Hrynkiw (Brampton, Ont., 2014) didn’t have an at-bat, but threw out the potential winning run against Quebec White in the bottom of the seventh.
Futures Navy 2B Adam Hall (London, Ont. 2017) Great Lake Canadians, tripled and smoked another line drive to left centre where Matthew Chiz-Majeur.
“He’s a pup and he’s as quick as most of the kids here.”
In the front row
Zach Valiquette (Guelph, Ont.) had the more enjoyable day of the two Valiquette brothers Sunday at the Rogers Centre.
Tyler Valiquette pitched against Ontario Maroon and allowed five runs -- three earned -- four hits and three walks and a hit batter in the fourth. His teammates made two errors and two other misplays.
Brother Zach, 12, snuck into the Action Seats and played 220 questions with Hall of Famer Robbie Alomar. Zach sported an Oakland A’s hat. Alomar, whose homer off A’s Dennis Eckersley in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series put the Jays up 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, obtained a Jays cap for Zach which he wore the rest of the day. “I tweeted I was sitting besides Robbie Alomar and picked up FORTY FOLLOWERS,” said the long-haired Zach, wearing the signed Alomar cap. For the nitecap, Zach served as the bat boy in the Ontario Maroon dugout under coach Adam Stern (London, Ont.) once again a candidate to break out of the also eligibles and make the Canadian Baseball Network’s seventh annual top 100 Most Influential Canadians in baseball.