By Greg Price
The Vauxhall Academy of Baseball Jets proved why the cliché of pitching winning baseball games is a cliché, with dominance on the mound on the way to a tournament title at the 12th Annual Haven Agencies Tournament at Jets Stadium.
There were three no-hitters tossed on the way to the championship, with Garrett Hawkins setting the tone in the Jets’ first game against Lethbridge Elks, striking out 12 over five innings, issuing one walk in the fifth inning on a cool Thursday.
“He just flat out dominated. He doesn’t let you breathe and he continually pounds the strike zone. It is really hard to muster consistent offence against him,” said Les McTavish, head coach of the Jets of Hawkins, who also tossed a no-hitter at last year’s Haven tournament as well. “He comes right at you, you better be ready to hit. And he has above-average stuff to top things off as well.”
Beating the Elks by double digits, Shayne Campbell was 1-for-2 with a double and four RBI.
Josh Malainey was 1-for-2, with a double and two RBI. Owen Harms was 1-for-2, with an RBI.
Evan O’Toole rounded out the offence, going 1-for-1, with an RBI.
Ironically, it was an ever-so-brief meltdown on the mound that cost the Jets its only loss of the tournament the following day, a 7-3 defeat at the hands of the Edmonton Cardinals.
“We came out a little flat offensively. We pitched the ball really well with a 3-1 lead going into the sixth, but then we scuffled a little bit. One of our pitchers had a tough inning and he’s had a great spring — that’s just baseball sometimes,” said McTavish. “Then they threw a really, really soft throwing right hander that we didn’t make very good adjustments on. It nipped us in the butt and it humbled us and it got the guys to refocus. It has probably been our MO forever (struggling against soft tossers). Coach K (Jim Kotkas) harps on the guys continuously. But that’s usually the way with good-hitting ball clubs is the softer throwers give you trouble. Not taking anything away from the Edmonton pitcher, he can pitch. It was the softest we saw all spring, but he can pitch and he located well.”
Levi Abbott started on the mound, going five innings, allowing four hits, one run, with seven strikeouts and no walks. Josh Tardif took the loss, going two thirds of an inning, allowing three hits, five runs, two walks and a strikeout. Reece Keller finished things off, going 1 1/3 innings, allowing two hits, one run and two strikeouts.
Ty Penner was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Kaiden Cardoso was 1-for-3, with a double and an RBI. Shayne Campbell was 1-for-3, with an RBI.
That focus McTavish spoke of included two no-hitters on Saturday, starting off with an 11-0 win over Medicine Hat.
There was a combined effort on the mound for the Jets, as Evan O’Toole went four innings, allowing only one walk to go with seven strikeouts. Jared Arnold finished things off, going one inning, allowing two walks with one strikeout.
Offensively, the Jets were led by Liam Vulcano, who was 1-for-1, with an RBI. Owen Harms was 1-for-3 with a double and two RBI. Ty Penner was 1-for-1. Shayne Campbell was 2-for-3, with a double and an RBI. Cooper Jones was 1- for-3, with an RBI. Dayton Peters was 1-for-1 and Levi Abbott was 1-for-2.
“There was a little bit of pressure back on us (with the loss). We showed up Saturday and were throwing darts with back-to-back no hitters,” said McTavish. “They were all Grade 11 kids that threw it.”
That included Adam Macko against the Great Falls Chargers in the Jets’ second game on Saturday, going six innings strong, fanning 11 hitters and not surrendering a single hit or walk. Thomas Little finished things off, going one inning with one strikeout in a 7-0 win.
Offensively, the Jets were led by Owen Harms who was 1-for-3. Kaiden Cardoso was 1-for-3.
Shayne Campbell was 3-for-3 with an RBI. Cooper Jones was 1-for-3 with a two-run home run.
Liam Vulcano was 2-for-3 with two doubles. Dayton Peters was 1-for-2 with an RBI and Levi Abbott was 2-for-3 with an RBI.
With other teams battling for position into the final against the Jets on Sunday, it ended up being the Chargers again. The dominant pitching performances allowed for plenty of arms available for the championship which led to a lopsided 15-3 victory.
The Jets blasted off on the tired Chargers pitching staff, notching eight runs in the first inning to reach a nice cruising altitude with no turbulence.
Chase Florendine started, going four good innings, allowing three hits, one earned run, one walk and six strikeouts. Matt Wiggins finished things off, going one inning, allowing one hit.
Offensively, the Jets were led by Liam Vulcano, who was 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBI. Owen Harms was 1-for-3. Ty Penner was 1-for-2 with a three-run home run. Shayne Campbell was 1-for-3 with a grand slam. Kaiden Cardoso was 2-for-3 with an RBI double. Cooper Jones was 1-for-2 with an RBI and Josh Malainey finished things off, going 1-for-2 with an RBI.
“We pitched pretty well and hit it pretty well and they were running low on arms,” said McTavish. “Pitching so well previously, we had lots of pitching left.”
The Jets will be landing in Montana with a Missoula Memorial Day Tournament which goes May 25-May 28 before concluding its spring season on May 30 at Spitz Stadium in Lethbridge at 7 p.m. with an TCMM exhibition contest against the Lethbridge Bulls.
“It’s always a challenge at this time of the year to keep focus. Our Grade 12s have signed with colleges, moving on to bigger and better things for next year. The team has done a great job staying motivated and I hope in the next 10 days we can get even better,” said McTavish.