Birds of a different feather root for Blue Jays

baseball2Let’s go Blue Jays!

It seems like all of Canada is hopping on the Toronto Blue Jays bandwagon as the American League baseball team prepares to make its first playoff appearance in 22 years. Thursday (Oct. 8), the Jays open a best-of-five divisional series at the Rogers Centre against the AL West champion Texas Rangers.

Everyone is feeling the excitement, including two members of the Cardinal Newman Cardinals high school baseball team – Noah Skirrow and Tyrell Hebert. They have both suited up for the Ontario Blue Jays elite organization at one time or another and say they are fans of Toronto’s big league club.

“I’m really proud of how they overcame adversity,” Hebert said of the AL East champion Jays. “Their past two games haven’t been the best, but I’m sure they’ll pick it up when the play the Rangers.”

Tuesday, Skirrow and Hebert played key roles in leading Newman to a 7-1 victory over the Bishop Tonnos Titans in a Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association contest in Ancaster. Skirrow didn’t allow a base runner in his three innings of relief, while centre-fielder/first baseman Hebert socked a triple and a double. He walked twice and scored three runs.

“I went to a Blue Jays games when I was six and saw Roy Halladay pitch … that’s why I’m playing baseball,” Skirrow said at game’s end as he donned a Blue Jays Baseball Academy sweat shirt and packed his gear into an official bag provided by the Toronto Blue Jays.

“It feels pretty cool seeing a team in the post season wearing the same jersey I wear every day when I play. I have the exact stuff they have.”

Skirrow is a pitcher for the Ontario Blue Jays 18-and-under squad which travels throughout the United States taking on top- notch Division 1 collegiate competition. Two years ago, Skirrow and Hebert were teammates on the Ontario Blue Jays 16-and-under squad.

“There was a lot of travelling to the States,” Hebert, a left-handed pitcher, said of his OBJ experience.

The current Ontario Blue Jays 18-U squad just finished a fall tour that took them as far west as Iowa, as far south as Texas and Louisiana. “And we leave again Friday for another 18-day trip (through Washington, Virginia, the Carolinas and Florida),” Skirrow said.

Skirrow, a hard-throwing righthander, struck out eight of nine Tonnos batters he faced. He was so dominant that a foul ball by a Titan batter drew applause and smiles from the fans and the Tonnos bench.

Newman’s Ethan Hammond-Srsan was on the rubber for the first four innings, allowing one run on three hits. He struck out five and walked six.

Tonnos starter pitcher Jacob Underwood struck out 10 in four innings. However, he yielded five runs, five hits and four walks. The final two Newman runs crossed the plate in the sixth courtesy of bases loaded walks by David Wilson.

Eric Dasalvia and Underwood stroked first-inning singles for the Titans. But after that, the home team was held to a two-out single in the third by Tristan Osika.

Hebert, a 6-foot-6, 215-pounder, currently plays for the London-based Great Lakes Canadians, a Canadian Elite Baseball Club.

“You can really see the difference in the level of baseball,” Hebert said in comparing high school with the elite travelling variety. “It’s all about making adjustments. When you go back to a high level of baseball, you’ve really got to bear down.”

Playoffs in HWCAA baseball begin Oct. 14. Tonnos is the defending champion.

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