By Jaspreet Grewal
Canadian Baseball Network
TORONTO – Adam Macko may not pitch in the majors, but there was a palpable comfort level he shared with the mound at the Rogers Centre on Friday.
The lefty was unmistakable in his brilliance, pitching five scoreless innings, striking out eight, and giving up all but two hits as his Alberta squad cruised to the 4-0 victory over B.C. in Tournament-12 play.
For Macko (Stony Plain, Alta.) who averaged well over 80 mph throughout the night, playing under the one-and-one pitch count rule is certainly a challenge, but it’s also enabled him to value each ball that much more on every wind up.
“I thought ‘since a one-and-one count is how you start, then first pitch is going to be very important to get ahead,” he said, with a noticeable grin on his face as his teammates showered him with praises in front of the Blue Jays’ dugout following the win.
“I just adjusted to what they were seeing from me. If they were looking [for] a fastball I’d throw a curve ball to try and keep them off balance.”
B.C. were no strangers to driving in runs, having dialed in six of them on Thursday in their matchup against Ontario Black, something Macko was well aware of throughout this game.
“The top of the lineup I was a little bit more careful about, so I just tried to pitch backwards and think a little bit more,” he said. “They’re all very good hitters so you’ve got to be careful with all of them.”
LaRon Smith (Spruce Grove, Alta.) and Kye Seitz (Okotoks, Alta.) each had an RBI in five combined plate appearances, with two of those drives coming in during the bottom of the third.
It also proved to be the deciding point for Alberta, as Smith would go on to smash a sharp line drive that would be inadvertently deflected by pitcher Tate Dearing (Surrey, B.C.).
An error by Damiano Palmegiani (Surrey, B.C.) would follow on the ensuing play, leading to three consecutive runs courtesy of Dryden Howse (Calgary), Cesar Valero (Calgary), and Seitz, respectively.
Lethbridge, Alta., native Chase Florendine would come in for late-innings work, relieving Macko by pitching through two and denying any hope of a comeback.
For B.C., right hander Dearing struggled in his first start, allowing three earned runs on four hits in three innings. His team, in addition, was unable to produce at the dish, totaling only three hits in 24 plate appearances.
On Saturday B.C. Orange (1-1) will go up against Ontario Green (1-1) in a matinee while the undefeated Alberta Red (2-0) take on Ontario Black (0-2) later in the evening.