Quebec Blue rides Gauthier to first win

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Mathieu Gauthier - Quebec Blue

* Mathieu Gauthier was stellar on the hill for Quebec Blue Thursday afternoon, as the right-hander held Alberta Red to one run on three hits in 6.0 IP en route to Quebec’s first win of Tournament 12, a 5-2 victory at Rogers Centre.

(Photo: Nick Ashbourne). ….

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Box Score

By Kamal Hylton

A strong performance from pitcher Mathieu Gauthier and early offence from catcher Tristan Paris led Quebec Blue to a 5-2 victory over Alberta Red in Tournament 12 play on Thursday afternoon at Rogers Centre.

It was Quebec’s first win at the event, following a 10-1 loss to Prairies Purple to start the tournament and a 2-2 tie to Ontario-Black earlier in the day.

Team Quebec (1-1-1) came out of the gate hot, testing Team Alberta (1-2-0) pitcher Jackson Wark.

After a single, stolen base and two walks loaded the bases, Paris capitalized by hitting a single into left field, cashing in two runs before designated hitter Corentin Boucher’s base hit brought in another run for an early 3-0 lead.

An early outburst, according to coach Denis Boucher, was vital.

“This was our best game of the tournament so far,” said Boucher. “We got some good two-out base hits early in the game that scored us some runs in the first inning and we just kept going from there.”

Gauthier was very efficient in his outing – nearly going the distance, pitching six innings, giving up four hits and striking out four. It’s a performance he chalked up to a total team effort.

“I had confidence in the whole team behind me,” said Gauthier. “We were pretty good today, especially throwing strikes.”

Wark, on the other hand, had a rough day at the office, struggling with his command and location allowing Quebec to force him into a high pitch count and a lot of walks. He gave up five hits and five walks on 47 pitches by the top of the third.

His day would end there, as he was replaced by Dylan Gates.

Much of the work beyond Gauthier’s performance on the mound was the outstanding defence behind him, as Alberta was unable to scratch home any runs until the fifth inning.

“We got a lot of rollovers, forcing batters to get on top of the ball and not right on to get line drives.” Gauthier said.

The right-hander gave up three hits and a walk to allow a run to score in the fifth. Tyler Scott, Alberta’s second baseman and leadoff hitter, singled to right, scoring catcher Sean Robbins.

However, Gauthier responded the very next inning, retiring three batters in a row.

Alberta looked poised for a potential comeback in the final inning when Zack Kunkel’s lead off triple off new pitcher Conor Angel came around to count thanks to Robbins’ base hit. It wasn’t enough, however.

The overall performance of his star right-hander impressed Boucher.

“He pitched extremely well today,” said the former big league hurler. “Normally I would’ve let him go the distance, but I had another guy that I wanted to get in today.

“Matt pitched a strong six innings and you couldn’t ask any more from him.”

Play in Pool B continues Friday, as Alberta meets the Prairies at 8:30 a.m. ET while Team Quebec will play Ontario Black at 1 p.m. ET.

– The full Tournament 12 schedule can be found here.

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