* Early RBI hits by Andrew Yerzy and Jacob Sims gave Eric Thrower all the offence he’d need, as the right-hander held Prairies Purple in check over four innings in Ontario Black’s 4-2 win Saturday morning at Rogers Centre. (Photo: Michael Hoad). ….
Letters of Intent
By Simon Sharkey-Gotlieb
TORONTO – A three-run first inning provided the only help pitcher Eric Thrower would need, as Ontario Black beat Prairies Purple, 4-2, in the final round-robin game of Tournament 12 on Saturday morning at Rogers Centre.
Ontario Black (3-1-1) had already clinched its spot in the tournament semi-final round before the game, and was set to play B.C. Orange at 1 p.m.
Thrower, a Toronto-born right-hander, weaved in and out of trouble during his four innings of work, but managed to shut out Prairies Purple (1-4-0) while striking out one. He pointed his success to a late game plan change in the bullpen.
“My changeup in the bullpen was really bad, so I tried to talk to my catcher to stay away from that,” the 16 year-old said. “(I was) trying to utilize my movement on the fastball to really run away from the left-handed hitters and try to jam the right-handed hitters.”
Thrower loaded the bases in the first inning, giving up a single and two walks. But he would get out of the bases loaded jam himself by starting a 1-2-3 double play, snaring a comebacker off the bat of Dylan Flasch to end the inning.
This was the start of a trend for Prairies Purple, which loaded the bases again in the second and put two men on in the third. In both innings, Ontario Black’s Thrower turned the Prairies away, ending the second with his only strikeout on the day.
In the third inning, Prairies Purple committed a crucial base running mistake.
With runners on second and third and none out, Troy Blad broke for home on Flasch’s ground ball to third. Caught in no-man’s land, Blad was out at home on the fielder’s choice. The next batter, Luxon Glor, hit into a double play.
Thrower was also the recipient of some excellent glove work behind him, including an excellent play by second baseman Jalen Harris. The ground ball, initially missed by first baseman Jacob Sims, was fielded on a backhand by Harris, who flipped to Thrower for the putout.
“It’s hard playing with guys you’ve never met, so you’re not really sure what to do in (some) situations,” Thrower said. “I broke pretty late to the bag, but thank God I got there. (Harris) made a nice play.”
Ontario Black opened the scoring in the first when Prairies Purple starter Nolan Legien (0-1) threw a pick-off attempt into right field. Designated hitter Josh Naylor, hitting .455 in the tournament, hustled to third and then scored when Prairies right fielder Christian Peters’ throw from right sailed high and wide.
Naylor slid into home, narrowly avoiding the catcher’s tag to give Ontario Black the lead.
The two-out rally would continue when the next batter, centre fielder Demi Orimoloye, walked. He was brought home on catcher Andrew Yerzy’s double. Sims would then single, scoring Yerzy and extending Ontario Black’s lead to 3-0.
Harris would add Ontario-Black’s final run when his RBI single in the fourth inning scored left fielder Nick Howie.
Prairies Purple finally got on the board in the sixth inning thanks to a two-run double from third baseman Brett Esau. But Ontario Black reliever Mat Szabo (1-0) struck out the next two Prairies hitters to end the threat.
Szabo struck out six batters in his three innings of relief work.
Prairies Purple ends their tournament finishing at the bottom of pool B.
– The full Tournament 12 schedule can be found here.