By Simon Sharkey-Gotlieb
A four-run sixth inning highlighted by two errors on the same play broke a tie game open as Quebec Blue beat Alberta Red 7-3 on Friday night in Tournament 12 action at Rogers Centre.
With the win, Quebec Blue (3-1-1) secured a spot in the tournament semi-finals on Saturday, where it will face Ontario Black. Quebec has not lost since dropping its tournament opener by a nine-run margin.
Pitcher Oscar Rodriguez led the way for Quebec, allowing just three runs over five innings while striking out six. The Montreal native’s only hiccup was in the third inning, when he walked two and allowed all three runs.
“The curveball was there (today),” said Rodriguez. “It was just that third inning that my fastball was a bit high, so I just adjust(ed) myself.”
It would take a bizarre play in the sixth inning to finally break open a tense game. With two men on for Quebec Blue, right fielder Jonathan Martin hit a comebacker that was thrown away by Alberta Red relief pitcher Jordan Parranto (0-1), allowing right fielder Clayton Keyes, who made two beautiful catches earlier in the game, then threw the ball into the third base dugout, scoring the second run and advancing Martin to third.
Martin would then score on a double play to extend Quebec’s lead to four.
“(Garon) ran into the first baseman,” said Quebec left fielder Matthew Chiz Majeur, who saw the strange play from the on-deck circle. “The ball got past and we scored a bunch of runs.”
Up to the sixth, the game was a tense affair. Quebec Blue got on the board first with a three-run third inning in which they batted around and chased Alberta Red starter Kurt Meeberg. The 17 year-old right-hander lasted just 2 1/3 innings, being lifted after the third run came around to score on Benjamin.
But Alberta Red struck back in the bottom half of the inning with a three-spot of their own thanks to a trio of RBI singles.
From there, Rodriguez would settle down for Quebec-Blue, allowing one hit over his final two innings. Left-hander Vincent Beauregard pitched the final two innings for Quebec, striking out three of the six hitters he faced.
Rodriguez, standing just 5-feet-11 inches on the mound, was quick to deflect praise
“We have a really good team,” said the 17 year-old. “The guys are all awesome, and they’re all hitting the ball (well) right now.”
Alberta Red’s tournament came to an end with the loss, the second time this week that they fell to Quebec-Blue.
The highlight of the game for the Albertans was reliever Nick Vickers, who took over from starter Meeburg to throw two and two-thirds shutout innings, striking Alberta Red right fielder Keyes also provided two highlight reel moments early in the game with his glove.
In the second inning the Calgary native made a diving catch in the right field corner. Then he ended the fourth inning with another diving grab, this one closer to the infield, snaring the ball before it hit the turf.
The Calgary native was shaken up while diving for what became Toro’s ground-rule double in the sixth inning, though he stayed in the game.