Canadian Thunderbirds enjoy double win at CanAm Elite ball tournament

Hamilton’s Canadian Thunderbirds 16s and 18s captured for the second time, both the Junior and Senior titles in the 12th Annual CanAm International Elite Baseball Tournament.

“With the way this (CanAm) tournament turned out and with all the recent success that our teams have had, the only way I can describe the feelings that I have for our players and their successes is fantastic,” said tournament co-ordinator Mel Oswald after Sunday’s wins.

In the Junior championship of the tournament, which honoured the late Hamilton broadcaster Bill Sturrup, the Thunderbirds 16s scored five runs in the second inning as they cruised to an 8-5 victory over the Orillia Ontario Tigers at Bernie Arbour Memorial Stadium. The Hamilton squad scored three more runs in the fifth and appeared to have the game in hand, until the Tigers mounted a rally in the sixth, but could only garner a run.

The T-Birds recently were silver medalists in the SANDLOTT World Series for Elite Baseball in Nashville, Tenn., and the 15-year-old Thunderbirds last weekend won the SANDLOTT World Series Championship and are the Boys of Summer Elite Baseball Conference champions.

Bobby Boddam got the win for the Hamilton squad going four innings, allowing three runs on four hits and two walks. He had four strikeouts. Tavis Bruce finished strongly in relief. Joe Bozza of the Tigers took the loss while pitching a complete game. He was touched for 11 hits, walked three but retired seven batters on strikes.

The Thunderbirds best batter was Joe Asztalos with two singles and two RBI. Durel Gribbons and Zack Fernandez had two hits each for the Tigers.

In the Senior division, the Thunderbirds 18s scratched out a 3-2 win over the Charleston South Carolina Diamond Devils. The Devils are three-time American Amateur Baseball Conference World Series champions and are the defending AABC champion.

The senior Thunderbirds’ win was their third international elite baseball championship in three weeks. They have now won the CanAm (their fourth), the Right State University International Showcase, and the Welland Founders Cup Baseball Tournament.

In the top of the fifth inning, losing pitcher Anthony Markham flubbed a pop-up in front of the mound allowing Joey Paulin to reach first with a single. But he was put out at second, which permitted Jordan Windish to reach first on a fielders’ choice. Windish advanced to third on a two-base error by centre fielder Alex Dozier and scored the first run of the game on a run down that got Chris Boghossian.

Charleston rallied for a run in the bottom of the sixth and appeared to have another run in the books, but Brian Harrison was left standing at third as Cody McElhaney was retired on strikes.

In the top of the seventh, Wes O’Neill, who had doubled in the fourth, singled to left, and Ryan Van Spronsen singled. Van Spronsen was cut down at second, but a throwing error by second baseman McElhaney allowed Tyler Patzalek to reach first and O’Neill to score. Patzalek advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a ground out by Tyler Bradley.

Charleston threatened in the bottom of the seventh when the Devils had two runners reach base. Nick Osterman advanced to third on a throwing error and scored on a single by Tom Fekete, but that was all they could get.

Markham lasted six and one-third innings as he gave up two runs on four hits. He walked one and struck out three. Andrew Turner finished the game. Devin Carlson pitched brilliantly for the seven innings he worked, allowing two runs on five hits and three walks. He struck out six batters.

Boghossian had a double for the T-Birds. For Charleston, Osterman doubled and Dozier added a single.

The tournament also featured individual competitions. In the homerun hitting contest, Mike Gottschalk of the Hamilton Cobras was the junior winner while Robert Evll of the Burlington Bulls took the senior event.

In the base running test, the Junior division was won by Brandon Nelson of the Canadian Thunderbirds 15s. He completed the circuit in 15.57 seconds. Taking the senior section was Christian Segar of the Monroe County, N.Y. Cougars. He was clocked in 14.50 seconds.