Backyard competitions help Vulcano brothers reach T12 together

 Johnny (above) and Liam (below) Vulcano following a session of batting practice at the Rogers Centre for Tournament 12. Photo Credit: David Rouben/Toronto Observer

Johnny (above) and Liam (below) Vulcano following a session of batting practice at the Rogers Centre for Tournament 12. Photo Credit: David Rouben/Toronto Observer

 Liam Vulcano.

Liam Vulcano.

By David Rouben

Canadian Baseball Network

TORONTO -- Johnny and Liam Vulcano would like nothing more than to make it to the big leagues together.

Growing up in Surrey B.C., the brothers have played with and mostly next to each other since childhood games in the backyard all the way to their current team at the top-level Vauxhall Academy, in Alberta.

“It all started in the backyard,” Johnny, 16, said following batting practice at the Blue Jays’-run Tournament 12. “Every day, we’d be out there playing catch, throwing each other [batting practice] and stuff, and we both just kind of fell in love with the game.”

Looking back, Liam, 17, recognizes the importance of those backyard sessions with his five brothers and baby sister had on their lives.

“I think growing up fooling around is where we really built the fundamentals just to play the game and … yeah, that’s where we started to just enjoy the game in and out.”

Growing up and wanting to play the same sport isn’t always easy. Even still, to this day, the two brothers are fiercely competitive with each other, even in a setting as simple as batting practice.

“If I drill two home runs out, he’s always hitting three,” said Johnny. “And then next round, I’ll try to hit four out and we’re always trying to be better than each other.”

But at Tournament 12, they’re practically stuck together. Liam bats eighth, Johnny bats ninth. Liam plays second base and Johnny plays shortstop. And their numbers are 1 and 2, respectively.

It’s no coincidence that they both play up the middle, as they settled into those roles early on.

“Obviously, everyone growing up plays multiple positions,” Johnny said. “We both kind of realized that’s where we wanted to be and we’re kind of interchangeable – like I can play second base, he can play shortstop – but we both love playing up the middle.”

Despite having competed in so many tournaments together, and being on the same team at Vauxhall Academy, Tournament 12 still feels like a special event for the Vulcanos.

“I’d definitely say this is bigger,” Liam said. “Just the whole showcase is so unique. Being able to play in a major league stadium in Toronto is pretty cool. I get to see the whole thing, and actually be on the field, it’s a totally different experience.”

Their experience of playing together has helped B.C. Orange get off to a fast start in the Tournament, as they beat Ontario Black 6-0. Both Liam and Johnny scored a run.