By Michael Hoad
TORONTO – What started out as a blowout in the making morphed into a nail-biting finish as B.C. Orange defeated Ontario Green 6-5 Saturday morning, kicking off the final day of Tournament 12 play at Rogers Centre.
Nicolas Favaro, who had three RBI in Friday’s game against Futures Navy, added two more in this one for B.C. Orange (4-0-1).
“It’s the same approach every time,” Favaro said, minutes after the final out was recorded. “I try not to change anything. [I try to] get ahead early, get the bat ready, see the ball, hit the ball.”
Tony Pharand started for B.C., allowing four hits and three runs in three innings of work. Tyler Hoefer pitched two scoreless innings out of the bullpen and Carter Loewen finished out the game, allowing two runs over the sixth and seventh.
Liam Munshi took the mound for Ontario Green (3-1-1), allowing five earned runs without recording an out. Cole White provided five innings of relief, yielding only three hits and one run.
Miles Gordon had two hits and scored two runs for Ontario in the loss.
Ontario Green struck first in the opening frame. Two batters after Gordon singled and advanced to second on a stolen base, Ian Wilson lined one to centre to make the score 1-0.
B.C. Orange then turned the tables and struck for five runs in the bottom of the first without recording a hit. Munshi could not find the strike zone, walking six consecutive batters before being lifted for White.
Thanks to six walks, two hit batters and three wild pitches, by the time the first was finished, B.C. Orange had jumped out to a 5-1 lead.
“It was really nice [pitching with the lead],” Pharand said, standing on the dugout steps post game. “It made it easier for me. It didn’t really change my approach. I always want to throw strikes, stay ahead in the count.”
Brooks McNivin’s squad tacked on another in the second. Following Geoff Ehresman’s one-out triple, Favaro hit an RBI ground out, providing further insurance.
Ontario Green chipped away at their deficit in the third.
With Royce Ando on first, Gordon ripped an RBI double to left-centre field. The speedy Gordon advanced to third on a wild pitch, and came home on Matt Warkentin’s grounder to shortstop, making the score 6-3.
In the fifth inning, B.C. Orange showed off some nifty defence. With a runner on second, Gordon hit what looked to be a sure base hit up the middle, but Robert Hemer ranged to his right to field the ball cleanly, then Favaro made a great catch on a close play at first to save a run.
“I thought I was going to get taken out,” Favaro said. “I just worried about the ball, I knew it was going to be a slow hop, I just stayed back on it and caught it.”
Ontario inched closer in the top of the sixth. Darren Shred walked with one out, and Max Wright plated him with a triple.
Elliott Curtis followed and delivered a sacrifice fly to make the score 6-5. That was as close as they would come as Loewen retired the side in order in the seventh.
Both teams had already booked a spot in the semi-finals later in the day, but there was still plenty to play for with the top spot in Pool A on the line.
“It’s a showcase so you want to show yourself every day,” Favaro said. “Anybody’s watching at any given time, it doesn’t matter what kind of game it is.”
This was the second matchup between the teams, with the first one ending in a 2-2 draw. With that familiarity came adjustments, helping B.C. walk away with the win.
“It gave us a little more encouragement to play better,” Pharand said. “We [committed] less errors and it allowed us to play harder and more competitively.”
– The full Tournament 12 schedule can be found here.