Ontario Black used CPBL players to win T12 semi-final

Before Tournament 12’s championship game on Monday night, two semi-final matchups were played to determine who would head into the final. BC Orange took down Atlantic Maroon 2-1 to secure their spot just before Ontario Black – a squad featuring 17 Canadian Premier Baseball League players and two coaches from the circuit – defeated Quebec Blue 5-1 to stay alive.

The Toronto Blue Jays-hosted showcase event brought more than 160 of Canada’s top draft and college-eligible players to the big-league stage, beginning on Thursday with a combine for upwards of 60 professional scouts and college coaches and finishing with the championship, after 18 games and five days. Players from the CPBL’s Great Lake Canadians, Ontario Nationals, Ontario Blue Jays and Toronto Mets programs took part.

Ontario Black was paced by Great Lake outfielder Lucas Parente in the semi-final, who had two RBI-triples, one scoring the first run of the game and the other sparking a four-run fifth-inning rally to ensure that the fourth edition of Tournament 12 would see another new province as its winner. He added an impressive inning-ending catch in the fourth inning to help stave off Quebec.

“We were saying it all game, he’s been hitting the ball really hard,” Black coach Chris Begg said. “We’ve been watching him make great plays in centre field, he’s getting good reads off the bat right away, and we’ve been impressed with him. This tournament is the first time I’ve seen him and I really like him. He’s a gamer. He’s not a big guy, but you can see the power he shows, he hits the ball hard, and he runs well.”

Canadian Junior National Team members Adam Hall, also a shortstop for the GLC program, and Noah Naylor, an Ontario Blue Jays catcher – currently the country’s top high school draft prospects for the 2017 and 2018 classes, respectively – each drove in a run in the matchup, with third baseman and Toronto Mets infielder Daniel Carinci adding an RBI of his own. After pinch-hitting in the top of the fifth, right fielder Antonio Cruz made an incredible diving catch in the bottom half of the frame to strand the bases loaded and keep the game where it was.

“We have some good leaders on this team, with the guys playing on the [Canadian Junior] National Team,” Begg said. “Then defensively this game we tightened up from our other games. Cruz made an unbelievable play in right field, that was huge, that was the turnaround play of the game right there. If that ball gets by him, it scores a couple of runs and then this is a one or two-run game.”

“Our guys on the mound have looked good, we’ve got guys who have good arms and have been able to throw strikes. With Noah behind the plate, he gives us some stability and shuts down the running game, so we’re pretty balanced all around.”

OBJ Right-hander Noah Skirrow got the start for the Black team, and after throwing four scoreless innings in its first game on Friday he threw four frames Monday, allowing one run on three hits with two walks and eight strikeouts. GLC righties Tyler Whalen and Mitchell Stemerdink combined for the final three scoreless innings.