The sign of a good team, it has been said, lies in its ability to win games in a variety of different ways.
The Sudbury U18 Voyageurs, apparently, are a very good team.
Extending their current PBLO (Premier Baseball League of Ontario) unbeaten streak to 11 games with a four game sweep of the Ottawa Nepean Canadians at the Terry Fox Sports Complex last weekend, the Voyageurs were able to rely on some of their traditional strengths.
Three starting pitchers would go the distance – Yannick Loiselle, Braeden Pakkala, Ryan Lacasse – the trio roughed up for just three runs against in 21 innings of work (Loiselle and Pakkala both tossed shutouts).
But even in a contest where the bullpen faltered, the Voyageurs’ bats were booming, racking up a 15-10 triumph in a game two outing that featured ten Sudbury hits, eight base on balls and four errors aside for each of the two teams.
The two whitewashes were marked by an ability to create offense nearly every inning as the locals amassed 13 totals runs in those two games without ever scoring more than three in an inning. In the series finale, the home side put seven on the board in the bottom of two, building a rally that was started thanks to three early walks but was extended in large part by four consecutive run scoring singles.
Did I mention that this team can win in a variety of different fashions?
“We go out there and try and have fun and put a few balls in play,” suggested catcher Cameron Bauer, who smacked a single and double in the series finale and added three RBIs in the high-scoring affair. “Today, we had some pretty good hitting, we put up a few runs.”
Joining the Voyageurs program just three years ago, the 17 year old grade 12 student at St Charles College suggested there isn’t a whole lot that he does not like about a day at the diamonds. “I just love the atmosphere of baseball,” said Bauer. “I love being outside, the warmth.”
“Even on the cold days, when you’re here with the boys, it’s great to just play a game of baseball.”
A catcher dating back to his days of houseleague ball, Bauer noted that the differences in moving from one pitcher to the next are not all that drastic – at least not with this particular version of the U18 Voyageurs.
“With Ryan (Lacasse), we like to get a lot of balls in play,” said Bauer. “He does a really good job of getting ground outs, getting a lot of soft contact. Scooter (Rienguette) is our lights out kind of guy, just blows the ball past them.”
“When I ask for it low, I like to get myself a little lower so that I can block it easier if it’s in the dirt,” he added. “Sometimes if it’s high, I try and stay up a little more so that I can get up there. But most of them are good at controlling (their pitches), so I don’t really have to adjust very much at all.”
The upcoming showdown this weekend against the Oshawa Legionaires at the Terry Fox Sports Complex – the teams are one-two in PBLO U18 standings – will mark the end of regular season play as the loop allots the month of July for teams to head out of town for tournament play, notably to the States.
It’s a series of trips that Bauer and company very much look forward to, each and every summer.
“With their fields, there is such a difference,” he said. “Their fields are beautiful; they take good care of them. But then when the game starts, it’s just a person across the field from you.”
The U18 Voyageurs opened the weekend jumping out to a 5-0 lead after two innings of play and riding a five-hit eight strikeout shutout performance from Yannick Loiselle to a 7-0 win as Gavin Roy (3/4 – 2 RBIs, 2 RS) and Alex McNiven (2/4 – 2 RS) paced the attack.
Game two saw the Sudbury lads bolt out to a 9-2 advantage, allow the Canadians to claw back to 9-8 before putting the visitors away with a six spot in the sixth. McNiven scored four times in the onslaught with Braedan Pakkala, Martin Audette and Nico Signorile crossing the plate twice each.
Pakkala was dealing in game three, fanning no less than 12 Ottawa Nepean batsmen en route to a 6-0 two hit blanking as six different players scored runs for Sudbury, with Scooter Rienguette the only local with more than one hit, with a pair.
Finally, the story in the finale was the bottom of the second as the Voyageurs loaded the bases with two hits and then saw Rienguette, Bauer, Pakkala and Signorile all single the Canadians to death as Ryan Lacasse surrendered five hits, struck out a pair and walked a pair in the 10-3 triumph.
To some extent, the Sudbury U14 Voyageurs were following suit, tripling the Ottawa Nepean Canadians 6-2 in Ottawa to extend their winning streak to eight games before finishing the weekend with a 2-2 split on the road. Braiden Paul picked up the win in the opener, holding his opponents to just two runs before Sudbury rallied to score five times in the top of the seventh, with Gabriel Larocque enjoying a flawless 4/4 day at the dish.
A forgettable 10-0 loss in game two gave way to a much closer affair on Sunday morning, with the Voyageurs scoring in the seventh to grab a 3-2 lead only to see the Canadians counter with two of their own. Larocque would shine on the mound, allowing just two runs in 5 2/3 innings or work, striking out eight though the six walks issued would put a strain on his pitch count.
The offensive floodgates opened as the teams prepared to hit the road, with the Voyageurs leaving happy thanks to an 11-6 victory. Ryan Spencer and Colton Nowoselsky banged out three hits apiece, with Spencer driving in three as well. Brody Mabbott battled his way through a three-walk one run final inning for the save.