York Mills Titans stole a slew of bases in their senior boys baseball OFSAA qualifier on May 30, but in the end it was the Harbord Tigers who stole the game.
After losing 11-0 to Etobicoke Collegiate in an earlier contest, York Mills came out on the attack in what was the second game of the day for both teams.
“We’ve got a few fast guys on the team,” said Titans coach, Mike Doig. “We lost this morning so we were especially aggressive this afternoon.”
The Titans were able to steal several bases early on and their hustle paid off in the bottom of the third inning. Allen Perkins slid in barely beating the tag at second after trying to sneak behind Harbord’s pitcher Martin Sampson–Coburn. He then easily ran home for the first run of the game thanks to a double by Titans catcher Sean Solomon.
Steven Balkos had two steals in a phenomenal fourth inning, but it was his pitching that stood out. While on the mound, with bases loaded at the top of the fourth, Balkos calmly struck out consecutive batters to get out of the inning unscathed.
It wasn’t until the fifth inning that Balkos allowed the Tigers to score off a single shot to midfield. Following a timeout, Titans third baseman Andrew Brugel moved to pitcher to close out the inning. Doig insisted Balkos was sent to the bullpen, not the doghouse.
“In the OFSAA-qualifying tournament there’s rules with how many innings a pitcher can pitch so we want to keep some of the arms fresh,” he said. “Balkos, who’s the starting pitcher, he was pitching a hell of a game.”
Brugel finished the fifth and pitched the sixth inning without allowing any more runs. A single by Brugel in the bottom of the sixth drove home Scott Lang to give York Mills the lead again, making it 2-1 heading into the final inning.
In what proved to be a difficult seventh inning Brugel beaned Harbord’s first batter, Wilson Wang. He later scored on a attempt to catch a runner leading off from first that was overthrown. Then, a pitch got away from the catcher allowing another runner Sampson–Coburn to touch home base. Two more runs were scored off a couple of pop singles putting Harbord up 5-2.
As much as Harbord’s coach Greg Smith was pleased with his charges’ play, he said he couldn’t take credit.
“They actually just had a meeting themselves and said this is our last inning,” Smith said. “They’re really excellent leaders and they sort of pump each other up.”
A comeback was not in the cards for the Titans as they got three outs in four at bats to end the game.
Doig was hopeful his team could still qualify for the OFSAA tournament, but admitted it has been difficult for his team to improve with little in-game experience. Due to persistent rain in weeks prior, several baseball games across the city had been postponed or switched locations. In fact, the OFSAA qualifier was delayed twice.
“It’s tough. We practise, practise, practise for months and then we’re ready to play and we we’re unable to play due to weather,” Doig said. “But I mean everybody’s in the same boat so there’s not much you can do about that.”
With a forecast of 31 degrees for their final game of the qualifier the next day, the Titans were optimistic they could pull out a win.
“We know it’s a game we can win and we’ve just got to pretty much go out there, play 100 percent and see what happens,” Brugel said.
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