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Tuesday, Jun. 19, 2018
Guzzo and Paquette duel it out on the mound
by Randy Pascal

It's been a while since Sudbury baseball fans have been treated to a good old fashioned pitchers duel.

But that was pretty much the case for the NOSSA final as Joe Guzzo of St Charles and Nathan Paquette of Bishop Carter went right to the max of their pitch limit, both making it into the fifth inning, with only five runs allowed between them.

Fortunately for Paquette and the Gators, three of those runs belonged to the home side, as BAC held on for a 3-2 win over the Cardinals. Bishop Carter used a quick start to grab some momentum early, as Parker Savard tripled in the first, was plated on an RBI single from Cameron Docking, who also eventually came around to score on a pair of walks and a wild pitch.

The Gators increased the lead to 3-0 in the second as Brady Maltais reached on an error and scoring on a double from Savard. From there, Guzzo and reliever Ryan Barton would hold the fort, though it took a lovely running catch from left fielder Evan Lamarche to thwart a Bishop Carter threat in the bottom of the sixth.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, got on the board in the top of the third inning, as singled and then circled the bases on a double from Ethan Lamarche. Things got really interesting in the top of five, with Braedan Gobbo driving in Barton on a single, the latter reaching base on a solid triple to center.

With Savard in on relief of Paquette, first baseman Dylan Fedorowicz came through with a key third out grab in foul territory, leaving the tying run stranded at second.

The entire contest was a testament to just how far baseball has come locally in just a few short years, with timely defensive plays substantially outnumbering the errors, and all four pitchers pounding the strike zone with regularity.

"I knew the top of their order was very strong, so I wanted to make sure I got them, and make sure I would keep my momentum going towards the end of the game, and luckily I was able to do that," said Paquette, who picked up the win.

"It was definitely one of my better games," he continued. "I went five innings, five tough innings, but I stuck with it and was able to get a win out of it." Despite the increase in interest in the sport, the reality for all four of the competing teams is that they must mix players who have some or regular background in competitive baseball with solid athletes who can pick up the basics on the diamond in a hurry.

"Brady Maltais, he's not a baseball player, he's a big hockey player," suggested Paquette. "But he was ready to go, got some hits and some runs and did his job really well." Though OFSAA does not start until the middle of next week, Paquette and a handful of others on the field on Wednesday will get to keep sharp, all members of the Sudbury U18 Voyageurs, who will compete in the Elite Baseball League of Ontario Showcase Tournament this weekend in Oshawa.

The chance to take to the field against top end competition on a regular basis bodes well for the development of local talent, according to Paquette. "This is going to be big for Sudbury, widen the horizons for baseball," he said. "It's going to open some eyes of the people in Sudbury, so hopefully more kids will join baseball."

In the meantime, he did acknowledge the unique atmosphere of facing some of the very same athletes on Wednesday who will be his teammates come the weekend. "They know what I can do and I know what they can do," he said. "With Guzzo, for instance, I'm throwing a lot of outside fastballs. It's tough, but it's fun."

Diamond Drillbits: Still with the Voyageurs program, the 15U team will take a 1-3 record into a Showcase Tournament of their own in Brampton. The team kicked things off with a win earlier this month, downing North York 11-8, but dropping games to the same opponent (12-3) and Etobicoke twice (8-5 and 12-5).

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