Letters of Intent
By Bob Elliott
A year ago the Maritimes shocked the Canadian baseball world riding the strong right arm of Andrew Case to win the inaugural Tournament 12, a 10-team gathering of the best high schoolers from coast to coast.
Provincial executives from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland showed at the Baseball Canada annual meetings with their chests stuck out.
No more losing 12-1 at the nationals … the combined group were Canadian champs.
And on Saturday night the defending Atlantic Grey champs were no where to be found but the win in the final may be as equally impressive in the home province.
Quebec Blue edged BC Orange 2-1 and accepted championships medals from Hall of Famer Robbie Alomar, his Hall of Fame father Sandy Alomar, Duane Ward, Lloyd Moseby, George Bell and the instructors on hand for the event.
“We had some struggles in our province,” said Quebec coach Denis Boucher. “All the players were here, all played within the federation. We keep our players at home, this shows we can compete against the best talent in the country.
“Obviously it’s a tournament and anything can happen, we had things go our way after the first game.”
A number of the Quebec elite players have been spending their summers south of the border playing for US travel teams.
Quebec opened with a 10-1 loss to Prairies Purple as pitchers allowed 10 hits and walked 10 committing four errors leading to three unearned runs.
“We were pretty shaky,” Boucher said. “We told the guys to let their ability take over.”
Next Quebec tied Ontario Black 2-2, beat Alberta Red 5-2, Ontario Black 3-2, and Alberta 7-3 concluding round-robin play.
Quebec edged Ontario Green 4-0 in the final and then BC in the final.
So 10 runs allowed in the first game and 10 in the next six.
But more on the pitching later …
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MDG Not So Light: Mathieu Denault-Gauthier (Candiac, Que.) pitched four scoreless innings in the final. Denault-Gauthier of as been in big spots before — pitching a no hitter for the Richmond Braves and closed another game at the Perfect Game U16 showcase in East Cobb, Ga.
Commissioner Robbie Alomar and alumni players spoke to both Quebec and BC teams inside the Jays clubhouse.
Starter Jermie Briere (Montreal, Que.), Denault-Gauthier and closer Alexis Lavergne (Gatineau, Que.) combined on the three hitter.
“I told them I wanted to go out for the seventh, but they said no,” said Denault-Gauthier. Lavergne set down BC 1-2-3 on a pop up on a 3-1 pitch, a grounder and then a pop up Lavergne caught himself.
Quebec scored twice in the fifth when Mathieu Chiz-Majeur (Pointe-Claire, Que.) doubled, Sam Chaput (Boisbriand, Que.) singled, Luca Portolese (Montreal, Que.) hit a fly ball and Jonathan Martin ( L’Assomption, Que.) knocked in the winning run with a single to right. BC scored in the first when Dakota Curry (Prince George, BC) bounced out against Briere.
BC won the right to play in the final with a 2-1 win over Ontario Black. Nicholas Favaro (Burrnaby, BC) tripled with two out in the sixth, scored on a
Hayden Jaco (Coquitlam, BC) double and then Trevor Lofstrom (West Kelowna, BC) singled. Jalen Harris (Toronto, Ont.) doubled in the seventh and scored.
Denault-Gauthier impressed a number of scouts and alumni with his 85-87 MPH fastball and his change up.
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Speech 1: “You Quebec guys,” said former MVP George Bell as he addressed the BC and Quebec teams inside the Jays clubhouse, who raised his right hand and pointed at Boucher. “You respect your coach I played with him for what … three, four years with the Blue Jays. He was a good pitcher and I liked him as a teammate. You listen to him if you want to follow in his footsteps.
“Whether we are Dominican, Puerto Rican, American, French or English, we’re all ball players. The game brings us together.”
Playing second for the Quebec team was Corey Boucher, Boucher’s son. He singled and walked in three trips in the final.
“It was kind of fun listening to (Bell) talk about my father,” said Corey Boucher. “I like it when people talk about my father.”
Boucher and Bell were teammates in the spring of 1988: Bell coming off his MVP year and Boucher a minor-leaguer pitching three innings in extras at Lakeland as the Blue Jays beat the Detroit Tigers (back then kiddies, spring games were usually played to a conclusion).
Boucher, then 20 allowed one hit over the final three innings to notch the victory.
“I struck out Tom Brookens to end the game and I celebrated,” said Boucher. “I remember looking around, wondering why everyone wasn’t jumping on me. I thought it was Game 7 of the World Series.
Sparky Anderson, the Tigers Hall of Fame manager, was asked if Boucher’s celebration in a spring game had showed up his team?
“Heck no,” said Anderson, “that was pure unbridled joy. Isn’t that what the game is supposed to be about.”
Boucher was signed in 1988 and made seven starts for the 1991 Blue Jays before he was dealt to the Cleveland Indians along with MarkWhiten and Glenallen Hill for knuckleballer Tom Candiotti.
Corey plays, third, second and pitches. Is he a better hitter or pitcher?
“That depends, in my league I pitch,” said Corey.
Boucher is the pitching coach for the Canadian National Team as well as a scout for the New York Yankees. He was there a year ago when Chris Robinson (Dorchester, Ont.) bunted for a base hit in the top of the ninth and Canada holding a large lead.
The benches cleared after Rene Tosoni (Coquitlam, BC) was hit and as the Canadian team headed back to its first base dugout Chris Leroux (Mississauga, Ont.) used each hand to lift up the Canada crest to show it to the pro-Mexican crowd.
“That’s when fans started throwing things,” said Boucher, who was hit on the forehead with a water bottle.
“I thought I was going to have to go up into the seats like in Slap Shot,” said Boucher at the time. “The guy in the fourth row said the guy in the second row threw it. The guy in the second row said it was someone else.
“My wife phoned to see how the kids were (Corey and his brother were the Canuck bat boys) … my wife didn’t even ask if I was OK?”
About that pitching: Lavergne pitched six innings allowing two runs and Boucher worked the seventh in the 2-2 tie against Ontario Black. Abraham Toro (Greenfield, Que.) tripled and scored on a Chaput fly ball. Jean Francois Garon (Terbonne, Que.) walked then stole second and third and scored on a throwing error on a grounder.
Denault-Gauthier pitched six innings allowing one run on three hits and one walk in a 5-2 win over Alberta. Connor Angel (Lachine, Que.) picked up the save. Tristan Paris (Gatineau, Que.) hit a two-run single and Boucher singled in a run in the three-run first. JonathanLacroix (Montreal, Que.) knocked in a run in the third and Garon tripled in the seventh coming across on a Chiz-Majeur single.
Hugo Brochu (Montreal, Que.) pitched six innings allowing two runs on four hits and a walk as he struck out tournament-high 12 in a 3-2 win over Ontario Black. Angel picked up the save striking out Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) with runners at the corner. Garon attacked a pitch and hit a two-run double in the second while Chiz-Majeur tripled and scored on a Chaput double.
Oscar Rodriguez (Montreal, Que.) pitched five innings allowing Alberta 7-3 allowing three runs on three hits and two walks. He struck out six. Vincent Beaurgard (Laval, Que.) finished up with two scoreless innings. Martin doubled and singled, while Garon and Toro added doubles.
Jason Tarapasky (Pierrefonds, Que.) pitched a complete-game shutout as Quebec blanked Ontario Green 4-0 on a two hitter. Paris hit a three-run homer to left in the sixth.
And that brought us to the final …
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Alex Agostino (St. Bruno, Que.), Jasmin Roy (Longueuil, Que.), Pat Scalabrini (Quebec City, Que.) and Boucher coached Quebec.
Agstino, a Philadelphia Phillies scout who had three cross checkers at the Rogers Centre, wasn’t there for the finale as he headed out for scouting duties.
So who was the winning manager?
Agostino or Boucher?
“Not Alex, he took us all to dinner the one night and then he left,” said Boucher of his good pal.
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The Canadian Baseball Network’s staff of writers — Alexis Brudnicki, Melissa Couto, Todd Devlin, Matt Betts and Andrew Hendriks — produced the copy for the T12 program. Our leader Peter Bean, Liam McGuire, Brudnicki and Hendriks were on site at one time producing excellent copy, video and tweets.
Yet we would be remiss if we did not extend a hearty thank you to Malcolm Kelly’s Centennial College journalism class, led by Nick Ashbourne, wrote game stories on each outcome (whether it was an 8 AM or 8 PM start) wrote features and produced photos. Then Devlin posted the copy — Simon Sharkey-Gotlieb’s story on the championship was posted seven minutes after the final pitch.
Not all the prospects were on the field.
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More speeches: Alomar: “You guys showed me how much talent we have in Canada. I’d like to thank Rob Jack, T.J. Burton, Jake Paddle,John Cram for doing all the work to make this possible. And Spencer Miller for announcing some of the games — he’s the guy who messed up how to say all of your names.
“I’d like to thank all the coaches who volunteered their time. They asked me to run a tournament so I said yes. My wife is from here, my baby is from here. I live here. I will continue to help baseball in Canada. You are in the major league clubhouse. To get back to a major league clubhouse you have to work hard. It’s not up to your parents, it’s not up to your coaches. You have to work hard. You have to control your destiny.”
Ward: “You guys made Canadian baseball proud, both teams are winners.”
Moseby: “Robbie told you guys to give us instructors a round of applause. We didn’t do much. Robbie signed autographs, Robbie went across the country. Robbie raised money to lower the cost for you guys. He’s a hard working Hall of Famer. He’s the one who deserves all the credit.”
That speech received the largest applause from both teams and coaches.