Letters of Intent
By Nick Ashbourne
TORONTO – After an inauspicious start to Tournament 12, Quebec Blue has been pretty much unbeatable.
Quebec began the tournament with a 10-1 loss to Prairies Purple, but has since gone 4-0-1, and now punched its ticket to the finals with a 4-0 win over Ontario Green in the semis on Saturday afternoon at the Rogers Centre.
They now meet B.C. Orange in the 6 p.m. final.
The Blues’ coach, Denis Boucher, sees a team that is starting to loosen up.
“The guys were a little nervous the first time out here,” said the former big league pitcher. “They’ve let their abilities take over now and are having fun on the field.”
It didn’t hurt that the club received a stellar performance from starter Jason Tarapasky, who pitched a complete-game shutout with 10 strikeouts and only two hits allowed, even picking off a runner in the win.
Tarapasky had struggled in his first outing of the tournament, allowing four earned runs in three innings against the Prairies, but he rebounded in a big way. The Pierrefonds, Que. native credited the turnaround to his role as the starter.
“When I come out of the bullpen, I’m not that good,” he said. “Once I was able to do long toss (as part of the pre-game warm-up), I felt amazing. That slider I was able to get out there more, and that changeup.
“I loved it.”
Quebec’s offence was provided largely by catcher Tristan Paris, who went 1-for-2 with a home run, two runs, and three RBI’s.
The 17-year-old’s three-run shot provided much-needed insurance for Quebec in the bottom of the sixth. After Benjamin Pelletier and Jonathan Martin had reached base, the Gatineau native blasted a line drive off the foul pole in left to give his team the 4-0 lead.
“I was waiting for a fastball,” Paris said of his home run. “It was my pitch to drive home. It’s like a dream come true, you can’t ask for a better scenario.”
While Ontario Green’s bats were dormant, they got an excellent performance from starter Nicholas Virdo. The Brampton native surrendered only three hits and a walk over five innings, striking out seven.
Virdo got better as the game went on, whiffing five in his last two innings of work. The lone run the 16-year-old allowed was unearned.
Quebec opened the scoring in the bottom of the second. After Paris reached on catcher’s interference, Samuel Chaput followed with a single and Jonathan Lacroix brought in Paris with a line-drive double to right field.
Boucher is quite familiar with the B.C. line-up his team faces in the final.
“They have some good hitters, I saw most of them at the Canada Cup in Saskatoon,” he said. “They have a good team, they make contact and are aggressive on the bases, so we are going to have to be alert and play good defence.”
– The full Tournament 12 schedule can be found here.