By Ryan McCracken on August 4, 2017.
Medicine Hat knew they would be in tough for their Canadian Little League Championship opening matchup against the White Rock All Stars, but they didn’t go down without making some noise in a 13-2 loss at Lovell McDonnell Field.
While the game was bookended by a pair of big White Rock innings — with the All Stars opening their night on a three-run first and closing it out with five more in the sixth —Medicine Hat coach Marc Seiller says he was very satisfied with their efforts against one of the most potent offences at the tournament.
“I’m really happy with the game. You can tell the kids had nerves in the first inning but they came out and they battled,” said Seiller. “Our boys tried to stay with them, it was good.”
White Rock quickly got the better of Medicine Hat starter Brett Getz in the first inning. Robert Orr, Reid Hefflick and Matleo Manzi all slapped doubles into the outfield to cash three runs and end Getz’s evening early — but it didn’t dash the team’s spirits.
“They were just hitting in spots we couldn’t catch,” said outfielder Wyatt Bishop, who led his team with 1 RBI in a 2-for-3 effort, adding they were feeling anxious entering their first game of the tournament. “We were waiting for a long time, practicing a lot, but we got the nerves out.”
Hat reliever Evan Morrison entered the game with just one out recorded and two runners in scoring position in the top of the first inning and managed to keep White Rock’s bats in check to some degree by holding them to five runs on six hits through four complete innings.
“He’s one of the leaders,” said Seiller of Morrison. “The composure that he has, and to come in to that tough spot and shut them down, it was nice to see.”
Even White Rock’s Lachlan Scardina —who went 2-for-3 with a home run and a triple for 3 RBI —had to tip his cap to Morrison’s efforts.
“(Morrison) is a good pitcher,” said Scardina. “It was a great game for me, but I’ve got to give credit to the pitchers too.”
Getz may have left the mound early, but he didn’t miss a beat at first base. With no one on in the fifth, Getz tracked down a fly ball and pulled out an exceptional over-the-fence catch to record the out.
Bishop cashed in Medicine Hat’s lone RBI of the evening after Stone Davis tripled in the bottom of the first, while centre fielder Jeff Bullock scored on a throwing error by catcher Manzi in the second.
Hefflick matched Scardina’s pace in the White Rock batting order, finishing the night 3-for-4 with 3 RBI and Orr had a home run and 2 RBI in a 3-for-5 effort.
“We’re really excited to get the tournament going and this first one is a big accomplishment,” said Scardina.
Medicine Hat returns to action Friday at 5 p.m. against the Regina Kiwanis Nationals while White Rock will have the day off before taking on the Glace Bay Colonels on Saturday at 11 a.m.
Port Arthur Nationals 13, Regina Kiwanis Nationals 1
After bowing out in the group stage of last year’s Canadian Little League Championship in Hastings, B.C., Evan Lachimea isn’t about to let his second chance slip away.
The Port Arthur Nationals second baseman hit two home runs and a pair singles for 5 RBI to lead his squad to a resounding 13-1 victory over the Saskatchewan champion Regina Kiwanis Nationals on Thursday at Lovell McDonnell Field.
While Lachimea did the heavy lifting — with both of his home runs coming in back-to-back at bats for a 4-for-4 outing — he’s not the only member of his team batting 1.000 after the Ontario champions’ first game at the 10-day national championship tournament. Starting pitcher Liam Willmore went 3-for-3 with 2 RBI and a pair of doubles — while holding Regina to one run on three hits over 2 and 1/3 innings on the mound to collect the opening victory — and Nolan Height was 1-for-1 with a walk and an RBI.
Mike Danchuk entered in the third inning and held Regina hitless for another 2 and 1/3 innings before Jackson Dubinsky entered to collect the last out and secure Port Arthur’s five-frame mercy rule win.
While Regina only managed to string together three hits in the loss, Lucas Bzdel certainly made his count. The Kiwanis third baseman ran right into a Willmore fastball and took it for a ride over the right field fence, but it was all the offence Regina would muster on the day.
Kiwanis starter Cam Kaytor settled for the loss after allowing five runs on six hits through the first 1 and 1/3 innings before Port Arthur’s offence ran away with the game.
Port Arthur returns to the diamond Friday at 11 a.m. to take on Quebec’s Mirabel Diamond Academy, while Regina will look to bounce back against the host Medicine Hat squad Friday at 5 p.m.
Mirabel Diamond Academy 4, Lethbridge Southwest All Stars 2
Quebec representative Mirabel Diamond Academy drew first blood at the Canadian Little League Championship with a tense 4-2 win over Alberta’s Lethbridge Southwest on Thursday morning at Lovell McDonnell Field.
Diamond stranded a whopping 13 base runners over six innings, but four runs was all they would need to jump into the win column thanks a solid defensive effort.
“We left a lot of runners on the bases and we have to work on this, being more clutch with runners on base. But we won the game. That’s the bottom line,” said Quebec coach Tristan Beaudin, whose team will return to the field Friday at 11 a.m. to take on Ontario’s Port Arthur Nationals. “Our guys did a good job. Pitching is our strength and we used three pitchers today. We’re happy about that, all our pitchers will be available to throw in two days. It was a well-fought game from both sides.”
Raphael Bourdeau collected the win after holding Southwest scoreless while allowing two hits over 2 and 1/3 innings. Leonard Lamoureux allowed both of Lethbridge’s runs on despite not allowing a hit in relief, then Christophe LePage Mancini earned the save after allowing one hit over the final two innings.
Lethbridge’s Nolan Wytrykusz took the loss after allowing three runs on four hits through 2 and 2/3 innings. While Zayne Wittke allowed another run while closing out the third, the bullpen is what kept Lethbridge in the game down the stretch.
Brennan McTavish was one of five relievers to appear for Southwest, and he managed to escape a bases loaded jam in the fifth while holding Quebec off the board. It was one of three times Diamond Academy stranded three runners on base.
“I get nervous sometimes but I just battle through it,” said McTavish, adding his squad needs to answer back with some offence when they take on the Glace Bay Colonels Friday at 2 p.m. “We need to get on the bats.”
Quebec left fielder Joel Ouelette started the offence off with a bang, sending the first runs of the tournament across the plate with a two-run shot in the top of the second. Second baseman William Alexis Brault kept the offence rolling in the third with an RBI error, then cacher Louis-Felix Anderson repeated the feat in the fourth to put the game out of reach.
Lethbridge mustered a response in the home half of the fourth —with Wytrykusz cashing an RBI groundout before Wittke crossed on a passed ball — but a line-drive double play in the sixth ended the game with the tying run in play.
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