By Cody Malloy
Day 4 of Tournament 12 saw the end of round-robin action, plus two semifinal matchups to determine which teams advance to Friday morning’s championship game.
Game 1: Quebec-Blue defeated Futures-Navy, 1-0
This game took a mere 59 minutes thanks to a no-hitter by Quebec-Blue pitcher Mathieu Deneault-Gauthier (Ailes du Quebec).
Despite the loss, Futures-Navy had stellar pitching performances from Ben Abram (Ontario Terriers) and Harley Gollert (Ontario Blue Jays), who combined for one earned run, seven strikeouts and one walk over six innings.
The lone run of this contest came in the bottom of the second inning when Pierre-Oliver Avoine (Ailes du Quebec) scored on a wild pitch.
Deneault-Gauthier struck out nine and walked three over seven innings, throwing only 61 pitches.
“The team played well, it was not only me,” Deneault-Gauthier said. “It’s not only throwing a no-hitter, it’s winning as a team.”
Deneault-Gauthier reflected on a perfect game that he threw about three weeks ago, but he said that today’s no-hitter was special being in a “big league environment.”
“My goal is to pitch as good as I can … my fastball is probably my best pitch, but today my changeup was really good.”
“He mixed his speeds up really well, his location was really good,” Blue Jays alumni coach Duane Ward said. “It’s nice to see how he’s evolved [since last year] into a better pitcher, and developed his Nos. 2, 3 and 4 pitches.”
Game 2: Ontario-Black defeated BC-Orange, 4-2
In a game that was led by great pitching from Ontario-Black’s Matthew Brash (Kingston Thunder) and Zachary Fascia (Brampton Royals), the club claimed its first victory of the tournament. Brash and Fascia combined for eight strikeouts.
Luke Turino (Toronto Mets) went 2-for-3, scoring one run. Reese O’Farrell (Ontario Blue Jays) had a clutch two-RBI single to centre field in the top of the third inning.
“I think everyone started to play the way they should’ve,” said Ontario-Green coach Rob Butler (Ontario Prospects). Butler believes his team played well because they didn’t “put too much pressure on themselves.”
“Early in the week guys were pressing, and had too high expectations on themselves … you don’t even realize the anxiety that you start to build in your body,” explained Butler. “You’ve got a stadium that has 50,000 seats in it, it just brings a different kind of feeling to the game. It takes a couple of games to get used to it.”
Game 3: Prairies-Purple defeated Atlantic-Maroon, 3-1
In another low-scoring affair, Prairies-Purple advanced to the semifinal game by edging Atlantic-Maroon 3-1. Three errors were committed, two by Atlantic-Maroon.
Prairies-Purple starting pitcher Brody Frerichs (Muenster Red Sox) threw a complete game, giving up only three hits and striking out six, with no earned runs.
Blue Jays alumni coach Lloyd Moseby complimented Frerichs on his ability to throw consistent strikes.
“He kept the ball low in the zone and let his defence help him,” said Moseby. “He was pretty dominant.”
Liam Giesbrecht (Team Manitoba) had a 3-for-4 afternoon for Prairies-Purple, with one RBI and one run scored. Giesbrecht also stole second base in the bottom of the first inning.
Moseby also had high praise for Giesbrecht.
“He’s really matured, his hitting is coming around and his confidence is sky-high right now,” said Moseby. “This is what we try to get out of this tournament, we try to get kids’ attitudes changed and we try to get their confidence up.”
On Prairies-Purple’s chances in the semifinal, Moseby assured that they were ready to compete.
“These kids are ready, they’re fired up … they believe in themselves.”
Game 4: Alberta-Red tied Ontario-Green, 4-4
The matchup between Alberta-Red and Ontario-Green saw good pitching from both sides, but defensive mistakes cost Alberta-Red a 4-0 lead.
Alberta-Red pitchers Nathan Stark (Medicine Hat), Ethan Ropcean (Medicine Hat) and Quentin Kopjar (Okotoks Dawgs) combined for seven strikeouts and only one earned run.
Left fielder Joe Woods (Okotoks Dawgs) went 2-for-3 for Alberta-Red with a double and an RBI triple, and also scored two runs.
For Ontario-Green, Ryan Rijo (Ontario Blue Jays) went 2-for-2 with two RBI doubles and he scored on Jake Wilson’s (Great Lake Canadians) RBI single in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Ontario-Green starting pitcher Matt Jones (Toronto Mets) pitched five innings, giving up three earned runs on four hits, with 11 strikeouts.
“It’s really awesome playing on the same field as the Toronto Blue Jays now that they’re the best team,” said Jones. “You get nervous out there, but once you relax and take deep breaths it’s all just fun.”
Being left-handed himself, Jones says he loves watching Blue Jays ace David Price.
“He throws hard, hits his spots, and he’s got good offspeed [pitches] … and plus, he’s a Jay now.”
Ontario-Green lefty reliever Niall Windeier (Toronto Mets) also pitched well, striking out four and giving up only one hit in two innings.
Game 5: Quebec-Blue defeated Alberta-Red, 4-0
In a close game with great pitching, solid defence and timely hitting, Quebec-Blue moved on to the T12 championship game.
Quebec-Blue pitchers Vincent Beauregard (Montreal Orioles) and Oscar Rodriguez (Montreal Orioles) provided solid efforts to lead their team to victory.
Although Alberta-Red was held scoreless, the outlook after the game was optimistic.
Alberta-Red coach Mike Johnson (Grande Prairie) thought that his team “played pretty well,” despite the semifinal loss.
“We battled back a couple of games … our arms did a really good job of keeping us in the games … we’re a strong defensive team.”
As far as what is in store for the Alberta-Red players, Johnson believes that “some guys have a really bright future as far as what they want to do with this game, and I think it’s exciting to see and I think it’s exciting for Alberta.”
On the Quebec-Blue side, they are looking forward to another shot at winning the T12 championship.
“[Our pitchers] pitched great again tonight and now we’re off to the finals,” Quebec-Blue coach Denis Boucher (Lachine Baseball) said. “The guys have been playing well and they’ve [been getting] some better at-bats in the last few games and hopefully it carries on tomorrow.”
Game 6: Prairies-Purple defeated Ontario-Green, 5-2
Prairies-Purple upset Ontario-Green with a three-run cushion to advance to the championship game.
Ontario-Green reliever Sam Turcotte (Ontario Terriers) pitched four solid scoreless innings, striking out six.
Ontario-Green coach Chris Kemlo (Toronto Mets) believes that his team put forth their “best effort” throughout T12.
“Guys played hard, they didn’t take any pitches off. These guys showed a lot of positive things this week and hopefully helped themselves.”
Kemlo described Turcotte as a “man on a mission” out of the bullpen.
“He was throwing strikes and getting ahead with his fastball … he took it to them. He was the aggressor tonight.”
Prairies-Purple starting pitcher Carson Perkins (Vauxhall Academy) threw four innings, surrendering only one run on three hits, giving up one walk and striking out four.
Dan Berg (Team Saskatchewan) went 1-for-3 with an RBI for Prairies-Purple.
Prairies-Purple advances to the championship final against Quebec-Blue at 9 a.m. at Rogers Centre.