Voyageurs baseball enjoy three for three weekend
by Randy Pascal
A pair of great pitching performances and some late inning heroics were enough to give the Sudbury U18 Voyageurs a three game sweep of their
season opening homestand, as the first-year entry in the Elite Baseball League of Ontario remained undefeated in league play.
The locals kicked off the weekend with a 3-2 win over the Newmarket Hawks as Sudbury starter Vince Bonhomme pitched into the seventh inning
before reaching his one hundred pitch plateau.
By the time he surrendered an inning opening triple to start the final inning, Bonhomme had already established control, helping the Voyageurs build
a 3-1 lead, with Nick Durkac coming in to pick up the save.
The bats unloaded in game two as Sudbury stopped Newmarket 9-1, with Joe Guzzo matching Bonhomme in reaching the seventh inning, and call-up
Justin Vaillancourt of the U15 Voyageurs closing things off.
Coach Jean-Gilles Larocque noted that a big part of the success of his team that is boasting a 6-0-1 record and holds several games in hand over
the five teams ahead of them in the standings lies in the balanced attack they possess.
"I play with the lineup a lot this year, and honestly, it's exciting," said Larocque. "It's not just one through nine in our lineup, it's one through
seventeen. I can put different guys in different situations and it's been fun to watch their growth throughout the summer."
"I've learned that a lot this year. There's certain young players that will make mistakes, but if you don't give them opportunities, they're not going
to learn." The Sunday finale produced just such a learning experience as the Voyageurs came from behind to trim the Muskoka Hornets 7-6, capping
their rally with a walk-off two run single courtesy of Tanner Morrison in the bottom of the seventh.
Leading 3-1 into the fifth, the homeside appeared to get rattled when Muskoka scored the game-tying run on a clean steal of home base, with Sudbury down
6-3 by the time the inning came to a close.
The score remained the same as the first two Voyageurs batters of the seventh were retired, and last hope Cameron Docking down 0-2 in the count
before working his way on base with a walk.
Big hits from both Bonhomme and Brett Melanson helped keep the Sudbury hopes alive, before Morrison came through in the clutch. "It was fun to
see them having some emotion," said Larocque. "It was an exciting game."
The Northern Ontario lads will start closing the gap in games played this weekend, facing the Leaside Leafs (8-6-0) twice on Saturday in Toronto,
and then battling the Mississauga North Tigers (11-2-0) in a double-header on Sunday.
The Voyageurs will then face a rare mid-week twin bill, meeting up with both the 17U and 18U Stouffville Yankees squads next Wednesday, before
returning home to host Mississauga North on August 5th.
Looking to crack the top four and earn a promotion to the Premier Division next summer, Larocque is confident his team matches up well with the majority
of the remaining ten teams in the loop. "We can hit with any team, but our depth in pitching is better than most," he said. "And we return all but two
players from this team next year."