BC-Orange, two Ontario squads unbeaten at Tournament 12
TORONTO -- The power rankings are becoming clearer after the second day of round-robin play wrapped up at Tournament 12 on Thursday night.
To no surprise, it appears British Columbia-Orange and the two Ontario teams are the squads to beat.
The three powerhouses have yet to land in the loss column after British Columbia and Ontario-Green tied, 2-2, in the day's final contest, and most-anticipated game.
Josh Burgmann of British Columbia limited Ontario-Green to one hit over three innings while striking out four. Burgmann's heater touched 89 mph, unofficially the fastest fastball thrown this tournament, while he missed bats with his breaking ball, too. Ontario-Green got on the board once British Columbia turned to its bullpen in the fourth.
Tristan Pompey, the brother of Blue Jays outfielder Dalton Pompey, hit an RBI single to tie the game at 1-1. Each team added another run, but good pitching from both sides kept the bats relatively quiet, as the two squads were held to three hits apiece.
Pompey, who plays for the Toronto Mets, a well-regarded travel team, said the coaching at the tournament has been thorough and helpful. Many of the coaches have professional playing experience, including at the Major League level.
"I was saying to my brother the other day that they are very knowledgeable," Pompey said. "I'm trying to take bits and pieces from each person."
British Columbia won its first game Thursday with a 10-0 mercy-rule victory over Futures-Navy, the tournament's youngest team.
The BC squad did the majority of its damage early, chasing Hunter Spoljaric -- the son of former big leaguer Paul Spoljaric -- from the contest after 1 1/3 innings. Spoljaric was tagged for nine runs on five hits. British Columbia received contributions from many, including Trevor Lofstrom, who came through with a key hit in his team's victory Wednesday and delivered again Thursday by smacking a bases-clearing triple off Spoljaric during a seven-run second inning.
Ethan Skuija and Tyler Hoefer combined to hold the Futures to two hits while striking out eight.
Ontario-Green, meanwhile, handled Atlantic-Grey during an afternoon contest.
Ryan Rijo put the exclamation point on an 8-2 Ontario-Green win by launching a solo homer to right field in the seventh inning of the victory. The first baseman became the second player at the Tournament 12 showcase to go deep after Alberta-Red's Nolan Rattai went yard in a win over Prairies-Purple on Wednesday.
Rijo and catcher Tony Hrynkiw each reached base three times, while starter Cole White struck out six over three innings.
The first game of the day saw Ontario-Black and Quebec-Blue exit the field with a 2-2 tie. Both teams, however, got some big reinforcements back for the remainder of the tournament.
Ontario-Black welcomed Josh Naylor, who was held up in Mexico for a few days with the Canadian Junior National Team due to Hurricane Odile. The team was able to evacuate in two groups Wednesday thanks to a Mexican military aircraft, which flew the stranded squad to Tijuana, Mexico, before a bus took them to Los Angeles. From there, the group, which also featured Quebec's top player Jean-Francois Garon, took a red-eye flight back to Canada. Working on little sleep, both Garon and Naylor took to the field for the 8 a.m. ET contest.
Garon went 1-for-1, scored a run and walked three times, while Naylor was held hitless in three at-bats. It was a game dominated by pitching, particularly from the Ontario-Black side.
Starter Mat Szabo struck out nine in four frames before turning the ball over to Isaac Anesty, who fanned six over three scoreless innings of relief.
Eric Senior provided all of Ontario-Black's offense with a two-run double, while Abraham Toro had two of Quebec's four hits and scored a run.
Later in the day, Demi Orimoloye -- a member of the Canadian Junior National team who was also stranded in Mexico -- made his first appearance for Ontario-Black. Orimoloye and Naylor provide the team with the two most prolific hitters in the tournament.
Despite representing his country and participating in prestigious events year-round, playing at a Major League stadium is not something Orimoloye takes for granted.
"It's cool to step into the same batter's box as Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion," Orimoloye said. "I've always liked domes, so I like playing here."
Orimoloye and Naylor combined for three hits, three runs and four RBIs in an 11-6 win over the Prairies. Senior had a two-hit game and scored three times, while Zack Fascia drove in a game-high three runs.
The big hit of the game, however, came from the Prairies' Troy Blad, who demolished a Matt Ianni offering in the third inning. Blad, who went deep Tuesday in a pre-tournament workout, crushed the pitch into the second deck in right field, easily the furthest ball hit in game action thus far.
"It's pretty awesome," Blad said. "Off the bat, I knew it was gone."
The experience for Blad, a Manitoba native who plays for the Prairie Baseball Academy back home, has been special. He's hoping someone takes notice of his ability.
"Come to the park, play, and chill with the guys," Blad said about what he likes about the tournament. "I thought if I play good some doors may open and some opportunities may come my way."
Quebec got in the win column in its second game of the day and third of the tournament with a 5-2 win over Alberta.
Garon went 2-for-2, including a triple, walked twice and scored a pair of runs, while Tristan Paris collected two RBIs on a single to left field during a three-run first inning. Quebec stole five bases in the victory and starter Mathieu Denault-Gauthier provided his team with six solid frames of one-run ball, while striking out five to earn the win.
Alberta's Zack Kunkel, who hit a walk-off single Wednesday in a 6-5 win over the Prairies, continued his strong tournament with a three-hit effort in the loss.
All at-bats start with the count set at 1-1 and the games last seven innings.
The eight teams have been divided into two groups of four and play squads from their own bracket in the round-robin portion of the tournament, which runs through Saturday morning. Once the tournament play portion is completed, the top two teams from each group will advance to the playoff round to determine the finalists for the 2014 Tournament 12 championship, which will be played Saturday at 6 p.m. ET.