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Maritimes win inaugural Tournament 12 in Toronto

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TORONTO -- The Cinderella story is complete.

The Maritimes -- an underdog team comprised of players from three Eastern Canadian provinces -- pulled off a number of unlikely victories and left Toronto as the last team standing at the inaugural Tournament 12.

TORONTO -- The Cinderella story is complete.

The Maritimes -- an underdog team comprised of players from three Eastern Canadian provinces -- pulled off a number of unlikely victories and left Toronto as the last team standing at the inaugural Tournament 12.

Backed by a dominating and deep pitching staff, the Maritimes won the championship after beating Quebec-Blue, 7-4, at Rogers Centre on Tuesday night.

"We're unbelievably proud of these boys," said coach David McQuaid. "They came out of nowhere, didn't get the respect they deserved and now they have shown they can play at this level."

Left-hander Myles Vincent threw six scoreless innings without allowing a hit, Cody Shrider homered and the Maritimes held off a seventh-inning rally by Quebec to cap off the memorable five-day event.

Shrider, who cleared the wall in left with his fifth-inning blast, admitted that he didn't think his Maritimes team would be celebrating on the final day when he first packed for Toronto.

"I'm totally surprised by this," said Shrider, who was among the Maritimes' standout players. "We definitely weren't coming in here expecting to do this. It's a little overwhelming and it means a lot.

"It's not often the Maritimes come together and beat teams like Ontario and Quebec."

The Ontario teams were stacked with Canada's most high-profile young talent, Quebec sent a lot of strong players to the tournament and British Columbia is one of the country's hot spots for baseball. But it was the boys from the Maritimes who had the last laugh and defied the odds by going 3-1 in the round-robin portion of the tournament before winning twice Tuesday to capture the top spot.

Right-hander Andrew Case is a big reason the Maritimes stuck around for the Tuesday night tilt with Quebec-Blue.

Case hurled a no-hitter over the seven-inning contest in what was the most dominating pitching performance of the tournament to get the Maritimes into the championship game, overpowering Quebec-White hitters en route to a tournament-high 13-strikeout, one-walk shutout (counts started 1-1 in the tournament to increase the speed of games).

It was the tournament's only no-hitter, and Case, who lost a perfect game when he walked a batter in the sixth inning, was carving up the opposition at will with a fastball that reached 90 mph and a slider he was throwing in the mid-70s for strikes.

Was it the best game Case has ever pitched?

"Ever, it's unreal," said an emotional Case following the afternoon victory. "To pitch like that in front of everyone, in this place, it's something else."

Case threw nine shutout innings over two games while striking out 19 and walking two.

Quebec-Blue defeated British Columbia-Orange, 5-1, to start the day before a convincing a 9-2 victory over Ontario-Maroon propelled them into a finals match against the Maritimes.

The Quebec-Blue team just didn't have enough left in the tank to beat a Maritimes club that proved to be loaded with pitching depth.

Vincent was throwing mid-80s, Case had some of the top velocity at the showcase, JP Stevenson set the tone with a lights-out start in the Maritimes' first game of the tournament Saturday, and even Shrider, who played a number of positions on the diamond, dialed it up to 88 mph.

"The guys did a great job this weekend," said coach Jason Davis. "Everyone came together as a team."

Teams, scouts, organizers and players were all pleased with the way the event turned out. Many have already started looking ahead to next year and pondering ways to make the tournament even better.

"We couldn't be any happier," said Rob Jack, the tournament operations manager and Blue Jays manager of social marketing. "And to see the Maritimes win -- a team that a lot of people didn't think would be competitive here -- is just the icing on the cake."

Worth noting
In a wild contest, Quebec-White defeated Alberta-Red, 12-11, in the final Pool B game to advance to the semifinal. Alberta did not go down without a fight, plating four runs in the final inning, but left the tying run on second base when Julien Cyr retired Joe Woods with a strikeout to help Quebec earn a spot in the final four.

Quebec was led by one of the top talents of the tournament in third baseman Charles LeBlanc, who went 3-for-5 with two runs scored, two stolen bases and three RBIs in the win, as well as outfielder Jonathan Martin.

Martin, who homered earlier in the tournament, went 2-for-4 with four RBIs.

Alberta was once again led by Wylie Johnston, who went 3-for-3 with two doubles and four RBIs to increase his tournament average to .700 over his four games. Johnston cashed in two runs on a hard-hit double in the seventh to bring his team within one run, and just narrowly missed hitting his second home run of the tournament in his previous at-bat when he hit an RBI double off the left-field wall.

Johnston, who attends the University of Calgary, is looking to transfer south of the border next school year, and at least a few American colleges are known to have expressed interest in the 19-year-old.

"When I first got here, I was pretty nervous," Johnston said. "But then I just kind of said, 'Let it happen,' and I hit really well, as good as I have ever hit, really. It's pretty cool to do it on this kind of stage.

"The one thing I wanted to do when I was here was hit a ball out of Rogers Centre, which I did. It was pretty awesome."

Chris Toman is a contributor to

Toronto Blue Jays