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Ty Sebastian pitches Express into gold-medal game at Canadian junior fastball
Posted: August 17th, 2014 @ 4:29pm
By CLAUDE SCILLEY
There was never much doubt whether the members of the Napanee Express could let bygones be bygones, when it came to Ty Sebastian.
"He fits in great," Express coach Brent Mills said, prior to his team's departure for the Canadian junior fastball championship in Alberta. "He's played against these guys for a number of years. He played Team Ontario and Team Canada with some of them, as well. They know him pretty well. He knows how to play the game; he plays the game hard."
Sunday morning Sebastian pitched the Express into the gold medal game at the national tournament, with a splendid four-hit 3-0 victory over the Owen Sound Selects. Napanee, assured of no worse than repeating its silver-medal finish of a year ago, will face the host team, the Irma Tigers, at 4 p.m. EDT.
In the final, the Express will be seeking to avenge a 16-7 spanking they were given by the Tigers in the final game of the preliminary round.
Sebastian, from Brussels, Ont., came to Napanee this year with a superb pedigree. A member of national junior championship teams in 2011 and 2013, he's a member of Canada's national junior team. He's also familiar to the Express, having hit three home runs against them in the gold-medal game last year, while playing for the Wiarton Red Devils.
The Wiarton team disbanded and Sebastian has been playing tournaments with the Express all season, with a specific eye to the Canadian championship.
"Most of his team moved on, so he was a free agent, basically," Mills said.
It wasn't a guaranteed fit, however. The Express was returning all but one player from its silver-medal team of 2013, and in a groups like this that have largely grown up playing together-and been successful throughout that dozen or so years-newcomers aren't always welcome.
"Sometimes you get a pickup and he just doesn't fit in and it tends to hurt you better than help you," catcher Cody Brooks said, "but he's fit in really well and he's great at the plate."
No kidding. Sebastian hit a tournament-best .600 during the preliminary round with a team-high four home runs. His eight runs batted in matched Tyson Zehr for the team high.
It has been with his pitching, however, that Sebastian has distinguished himself during the playoff round. His five-hit 9-3 win over the Saskatoon Diamondbacks Saturday night put Napanee into a medal position.
He struck out 10 then and another 10 against Owen Sound as Napanee posted back-to-back wins against teams that had defeated the Express in the preliminary round-scoring 23 runs and collecting 27 hits in the process.
Mills said there was never a concern that Sebastian would disrupt the team.
"They know he's a talented player and they know him personally," he said. "They know what he adds to this team and that he's not going to come in and ruffle any feathers, either. He's been a great addition."
"We've all played ball against him our whole life. He's a little older than us but we play against him every other year so we're familiar with him and his attitude and he fits in really well.
"He's a pretty unreal ball player, all-around. He hits the ball real well and can play just about anywhere."
Sunday morning's match fit the stereotype of a medal-round game at a national fastball championship. At the penultimate game of a tournament where 22 of 36 preliminary games were ended early by the mercy rule, Sebastian didn't give up a hit until Adam Stuck's two-out single in the third inning and he retired the next 12 men in order, until the next of Owen Sound's hits - all four were singles - with two out in the sixth.
Meanwhile, Michael Legace-Root, was just as good throwing for Owen Sound. He retired the side in order in four of the seven innings, and he retired 11 men in a row in the middle part of the ball game.
The only two pitches he'd doubtless like to have back were hit out of the park, back to back, with two out in the third inning, by Cole Bolton and Taylor Brown - Napanee's 22nd and 23rd home runs of the tournament.
Not another Express batter reached base until Jarrett Williams singled in the seventh.
Haaken Zatterberg pinch-ran for Williams and he promptly stole second base, from where he scored an insurance run on a single by Sloan Creighton.
Owen Sound put two men on with two out in the sixth inning, and the Selects also had two on with two out in the seventh. Zach McCartney fouled off three two-strike pitches before Sebastian finally got him to pop up for the final out.
The Express got a measure of satisfaction against Legace-Root, whose terrific history in national championships included a victory over Napanee in last year's gold-medal game.
Lifetime at Canadian tournaments, Legace-Root was 17-5 with 213 strikeouts in 131 innings going into Sunday's game. He struck out a dozen Napanee batters and allowed just five hits.
Napanee 002 000 1 - 3 5 0
Owen Sound 000 000 0 - 0 4 0
Ty Sebastian (W,2-1) and Cody Brooks; Michael Legace-Root (L, 5-2) and Craig Lyons. HRs: Nap - Cole Bolton (4), Taylor Brown (4).
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