TORONTO, Ont. — When a short baseball tournament allows for tie games, the results on the scoreboard are hardly the focus.
That was the thinking from BC Orange head coach Paul Spoljaric after he watched his team play to a 2-2 tie against Ontario Green on Thursday night at the Rogers Centre. Both teams had a 2-0-0 record coming into the game, and they looked evenly matched throughout.
Tristan Pompey of Ontario singled in a key RBI in the fourth inning while power hitter Dakoka Curry of BC doubled in an RBI of his own as two of Tournament 12’s strongest teams went back and forth all game.
“You have to get away from being result oriented in a tournament like this,” said Spoljaric after the game. “That’s not what people want to look at – they want to see who you are as a player. Nobody here cares about results. It’s really hard for these kids because they put a lot of pressure on themselves to measure themselves with success.”
Pompey’s RBI drove in Royce Ando who stole first and second to put himself into scoring position. Ando also successfully bunted on the first pitch of the game.
“As soon as I get on bases, I like to base my game on stealing bags,” said Ando. “I’m looking at how many looks [pitchers] are giving. Those are the clues I take into the game.”
BC’s pitchers combined for nine strikeouts but that didn’t surprise Ando.
“It was what I expected, they have some velocity,” he said of BC’s hurlers. “We were going to hunt the heater, they [wanted] to show it off.”
Spoljaric was noticeably impressed with BC starting pitcher Josh Burgmann who left the game after three innings, having allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out four batters. He even picked off Elliott Curtis of Ontario, on his third attempt, at first base.
“That kid’s got some special ability, he’s got all the right tools,” said Spoljaric. “I would hardly touch him at all, I would just let him experience pitching and develop. He’s gonna be a special kid.”
Burgmann had thrown just 10 pitches after the first inning and completed three innings having thrown only 28 pitches.
When asked who was a standout performer for the Ontario team, Ando didn’t hesitate.
Oh, [pitcher] Liam Munshi, for sure,” he said. “[Munshi] told me that his velocity wasn’t there but to me, he was fooling everybody out there. His fastball [was] cutting, working great.”
Munshi also pitched three innings, allowing one earned run while striking out three.
Spoljaric said he can’t emphasize enough that players in this tournament have to look at the little things that went right or wrong, rather than the score.
“Baseball people know that everybody’s going to go Oh-for [or] you’re going to have a rough day on the mound – it’s all part of the game,” he said. “How you react to those situations is often the difference between a minor and a major-leaguer.
“Having the ability to overcome adversity.”
BC relief pitcher Kristjan Storrie had a tough act to follow in Burgmann and he struggled with his first batter. Storrie allowed Ando to get on base with an error in the fourth inning – Ando would score later in the inning – but he recovered to strike out the side.
Spoljaric said the nature of the tournament’s rules – 1-1 counts to start at-bats – makes for some intense baseball.
“It forces the offence and the defence to basically have the same mindset,” he said. “You have to be aggressive, you’ve gotta swing the bat. That’s what scouts want to see. If they’re thinking about putting up numbers, they’re totally in the wrong mindset.”
With both teams remaining undefeated this week, Ontario will go on to face Atlantic Grey on Friday while BC will take on Futures Navy – the team that features two of Spoljaric’s sons, Garner and Hunter.
“I just want them to enjoy the experience [of Tournament 12],” said Spoljaric. “It’s an incredible opportunity to be in front of so many different scouts and professionals. I tell [my sons] all the same things, but once it’s heard from a different source it’s easier for them to digest. It’s not Dad saying it, it’s Lloyd Moseby, it’s Duane Ward, it’s Paul Quantrill.”
– The full Tournament 12 schedule can be found here.