By David Morassutti
Canadian Baseball Network
TORONTO - It did not take long for Prairies Purple starting pitcher Garrett Hawkins (Biggar, Sask.) to get settled into the opening game of the Tournament 12.
All he needed was a three-run first inning from his teammates as he threw a no-hitter over four innings and the Prairies held on for a 3-2 victory against the Atlantic Maroons at Rogers Centre on Thursday.
Hawkins (1-0) was efficient with his pitches, needing only 38, and could have stayed in but at this tournament scouts need to see as many players get into the game.
“I would have liked to go longer,” said Hawkins, a 6-foot-5, 217-pound right-hander. “But it is a showcase so everyone has to get their innings in.”
The Biggar, Sask., native had five strikeouts and one walk relying more on his curveball and changeup to throw the Maroons off their game.
“I found my curveball later in the game where it started to break more,” said the 17-year-old. “I wanted to get ahead with my fastball early in the count.”
The Prairies got off to a fast start with a three run first on three consecutive singles from Tyler McWillie (Watrous, Sask.), Logan Fritzke (Swift Current, Sask.) and Owen Harms (Winnipeg, Man.) off Maroons starter Ethan Francis (0-1), who is from Miscouche, P.E.I.
Going into the game the offence wanted to give their starting pitching something to work with especially early on.
“Putting three up in the first definitely helped set the tone for the game because we wanted to take the pressure off the starters,” said Harms who finished the game with three hits.
The Prairies starting shortstop is one of the few returning players from last year’s tournament and is already seeing an improvement behind the plate. He only registered two hits over three games and believes he has a better grasp on what he needs to do in order to be successful.
“Just trying to go out there and find the pitches I wanted and make sure I made the most out of the pitches I got.”
The Atlantic made things interesting in the final inning with Noah Duckworth (Charlottetown, P.E.I.) and Max Grant (Fredericton, N.B.) hitting back-to-back singles to pull within a run, but Jordan Lussier (Winnipeg, Man.) got Patrick McWilliam (Moncton, N.B.) to strikeout with Nick Gravel (Fall River, N.S.) in scoring position.