By Matt Teague
Canadian Baseball Network
TORONTO -- For most 15-year-olds, the task of representing another team under the bright lights of the Rogers Centre would be a tall order.
For pitcher Carter Morris, it was just another day at the ballpark.
Morris (Vernon, B.C.) pitched magnificently for Atlantic Maroon (3-2) in their 5-4 victory over Ontario (3-2) Green on Sunday afternoon, earning the win by throwing four convincing innings and giving up just two hits while striking out seven.
Tournament 12 is a showcase of talent first and a competition second, so when Morris was promised another start despite his team, Futures Navy, being eliminated from competition, he was slotted into the Atlantic squad's lineup for another chance to further showcase his talent.
“Coach promised me another start for Sunday, so I had a feeling that it was coming and that I would be starting for a different team today,” said Morris, still beaming from his excellent performance at Rogers Centre. “I just couldn’t wait to get back out there.”
Morris started the opening game of the tournament for Futures Navy on Thursday, pitching just two innings and allowing two earned-runs on four hits and three walks. Although he represented a different set of colours on Sunday, the six-foot-one righty understood that the goal remained the same.
“It was a different experience, but I just have to do my job on the mound and not really worry about who I am pitching for,” Morris said. “No added pressure really, just getting a chance and doing my job.”
Ontario Green led the pack offensively throughout the preliminary round scoring 28 runs over four games, but could not solve Morris, who playing under the tournaments one-and-one pitch count rule, had his strategy working to near perfection.
“If you can get the changeup over for a first-pitch strike, with their timing off, you give yourself so many options at 1-2,” Morris said. “You can go anywhere from there, high heat or go back low.”
Atlantic Maroon got to Ontario starter Adam Parker (Scarborough, Ont.) early on, building a comfortable 4-0 lead after two innings courtesy of RBI from Cole Tucker (Mt. Pearl, Nfld.), Micah McDowell (Coldbrook, N.S.) and two from Max Grant (Fredericton, N.B.)
After an error by Ontario pitcher Lukas Barry (Mississauga, Ont.) allowed a runner to advance all the way to third base, Grant hit another single for his team-leading fifth RBI of the tournament to make it 5-0 Atlantic.
“I’ve just been keeping it simple, waiting for the first pitch fastball and if it’s not there just hold off and go from there,” said Grant about his success so far at the tournament. “You just really need to be ready to go with the one-and-one count because the pitchers often throw first pitch strikes.”
It took just 16 pitches against Atlantic reliever Evan O’Toole (Bridgewater, N.S.) for Ontario to score four runs and put themselves back into the game in the fifth, but with Jake Mackinnon (Mineville, N.S.) pitching well in the sixth and seventh innings to record his first save of the tournament, they just couldn’t squeeze out that tying run.