* Making his first appearance since a hectic return from Mexico, Junior National Team member Mike Soroka looked impressive on Friday morning, tossing four hitless shutout innings in a 5-0 Alberta Red win over Prairies Purple at Tournament 12. (Photo: Baseball Canada). ….
Letters of Intent
By Michael Hoad
When Alberta Red and Prairies Purple met on Wednesday night, Alberta came out on top in a one-run game.
On Friday morning at the Rogers Centre, the two teams squared off for a rematch and Alberta walked away with another win, this time by a 5-0 count.
Mike Soroka, a strong prospect with a 90 mph fastball who has been receiving lots of attention south of the border, was impressive in his first appearance of the tournament.
The hard-throwing right-hander pitched four shutout innings, and did not surrender a hit, retiring the final eight batters he faced.
Owen Bessette pitched a scoreless fifth out of the bullpen.
Third baseman Nolan Rattai provided all the offence Alberta (2-2) would need, driving in two runs as he helped his team bounce back from a 5-2 loss at the hands of Quebec Blue on Thursday.
Righty BJ Moen went four innings for Prairies Purple (1-3), allowing two hits and one earned run.
With the loss, the Prairies are on the brink of elimination from playoff contention. Alberta needs a win against Quebec Blue on Friday to make Saturday’s semi-finals.
Moen battled command issues in the first, walking three batters in the frame, but only Kobe Hyland came around to score on Rattai’s sacrifice fly for an early 1-0 Alberta lead.
“Our leadoff guy did his job, got to third and all I had to do was put the ball in play,” said Rattai on the dugout steps after the game. “It was more him getting that run, not me.”
Soroka issued two free passes of his own in the opening inning, but thanks to a pickoff, strikeout, and routine ground ball, no damage was done.
“I tried to attack the hitters as much as I could,” Soroka said. “I haven’t had much sleep in the past couple days, but you can’t make that an excuse. You always have to go after the hitters no matter what.”
The young starter was particularly impressed with the game his catcher, Sean Robbins, called. The two were on the same page all morning, and it showed.
“I agreed with everything he called,” Soroka said. “I didn’t shake him off once, and that’s a good relationship right there.”
Alberta tacked on another run in the second, stretching its lead to 3-0.
After retiring the first two batters of the inning on just three pitches, Moen walked Luke Lepine, and then gave up back-to-back singles to Hyland and Rattai, plating Lepine in the process.
Brady Moxham replaced Moen in the fifth inning and retired the top of Alberta’s lineup in order, including strikeouts of Rattai and Peter Hutzal.
Brett Resch recorded Prairies Purples’ first hit of the game in the bottom of the fifth. The first baseman delivered a bloop single just out of reach of Alberta’s second baseman.
Left-hander Jared Kennedy came in to pitch the sixth for Alberta and immediately found himself in trouble.
After Luxon Glor led off with a walk and a steal, Marshall Burgess followed with a single, giving Prairies Purple men on the corners with no outs.
Kennedy worked himself out of the jam, getting Esau to pop out to second, before striking out Troy Blad and Dylan Flasch to end the threat.
“I wasn’t concerned at all,” Rattai said. “[Kennedy] pitches with me on my home team (Vauxhall Academy). He’s a great pitcher, and I wasn’t worried. I knew he’d shut the door.”
Alberta broke the game open in the top of the seventh. With the bases loaded and no outs, second baseman Hutzel delivered a base hit up the middle, driving in a pair.