Who says pitching and defence win baseball championships?
Well, apparently whoever it was, was right.
Take, for example, the 2013 Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association high school baseball final on Tuesday (Oct. 22) in Ancaster. The Bishop Tonnos Titans used a shut-the-opponent-down formula to capture the league title by a 1-0 decision over the Cardinal Newman Cardinals.
It was the second straight HWCAA championship in the sport for the Titans, who went undefeated in seven games this season.
“All year we kept waiting for our offence to click in but it never did,” Tonnos coach Mike Hammond said. “Pitching and defence have been our MO. Both pitchers pitched very well today. It would have been a tough one to lose after going undefeated all year.”
The Titans got a seven-inning route-going performance by pitcher Nolan Roth. They scored the lone run in the third inning when Kevin Guild walked, advanced on a throwing error and scored on singles by Mack Hammond and Joshua Bolan. Bolan’s RBI single up the middle did not leave the infield.
Roth, a Grade 11 student, scattered seven hits. The right-hander struck out three and walked none.
“It feels great,” Roth said of the victory on a cold, windy afternoon. “We battled. We knew we had to play great ‘D’ to beat them.
“My changeup was really working. It seemed to throw them off. I probably threw it to two batters an inning. Our catcher called a great game. And our defence got it done when they hit the ball.”
Roth, who plays elite ball for the Burlington-based Field House U-16 Pirates, also tossed four shutout innings on Sept. 24 against Tonnos. On that occasion, the Titans won 2-0.
When asked about Roth’s performance, Hammond said: “He’s a smart pitcher. He thinks out there. He doesn’t just throw, he pitches. He uses his off-speed pitch when he needs to.”
The hard-luck losing pitcher was Adam Rossit, who yielded just six hits and one walk. He struck out the side in the fifth, finishing with a total of seven Ks. Rossit, incidentally, was selected to play for Ontario Maroon recently during the inaugural Blue Jays Baseball Academy Tournament at Rogers Centre.
Newman, second-place finishers during the regular season, threatened to score the tying run in the seventh inning. With two out Adam Rossit reached base when the throw by third baseman Guild pulled first baseman Bolan off the bag. Then, after a stolen base, Joey Brown stepped into the batter’s box and lined a ball into right-centre field that was caught to end the game by centre fielder Hammond.
“A couple of feet left and it would have been a tie game,” Newman coach Matt Di Cosmo said of Brown’s drive. “We had the right guy at bat and the right guy on base. They played a heck of a game defensively.
“We had the hits and we got into scoring position. We just didn’t get hits at key times.”
Di Cosmo said it was a painful loss for his team which reached the final for a second-straight year. Tonnos took the 2012 finale, 4-2.
“I really thought we had a chance of beating them this year,” Di Cosmo said.
Roth and Hammond both praised the play at the hot corner of Guild, who was making a rare start at that position. In the field, however, Guild had four assists, stranding a total of five Cardinal base runners.
“(Guild) was clutch today,” Roth said. “We’ve looked for a third baseman all year. He made two great plays.”
For the Cardinals, catcher Mike Rossit connected for three singles and first baseman Tryrell Hebert singled twice. The Titans also got a double by Jacob Stephenson plus two singles apiece by Hammond and Franco Tavormina.
Tonnos hurt themselves on the base paths, however. They had two runners picked off second base by the pitcher and another thrown out by the catcher trying to steal second.
“Base running has been our Achilles heel all year,” the Tonnos coach said. “It continued today, but we were able to survive.”
Other starters for the Titans were second baseman Matthew Grabstas, shortstop Jacob Underwood and right fielder Justin Mignardi.
Tonnos will have to wait until next spring to play the Halton representative for the Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference championship.