"It's a great opportunity for all these young men to be seen, and on top of that, it's a good opportunity to play at Rogers Centre," said Pete Orr, former big leaguer and coach with Ontario Black. "I remember getting the opportunity to do it when I was 17 years old, and it was one of the greatest things I did, being out here and being a Blue Jays fan, it's great."
Added Corey Eckstein, BC Orange coach and scout for the Royals: "It's a great experience. It keeps getting better each year. We didn't swing the bats the way we were capable of the last couple games, defensively we had a couple blunders that cost us in big situations, but the pitchers gave us a chance all weekend. It would have been nice to get the monkey off our backs, but it was a good all-around tournament."
Hosted by the Blue Jays Baseball Academy and named for tournament commissioner Roberto Alomar -- who presented each player with an autographed Alomar bat during a tour of the Blue Jays' clubhouse -- the fourth annual showcase was an even bigger success than in previous years.
"The competition was better than ever," Tournament operations manager T.J. Burton said. "All the teams competed. I don't think there was one team that was far and away better than everybody else. The Ontario team and the BC team were the two best teams, and they faced in the finals, so it was a great tournament all around and the kids did a great job."
Black middle infielder Hall -- also Canada's top high school prospect heading into next year's Draft -- was named the MVP of the event after impressing in all of his six games. The Bermuda-born native of London, Ont., went 8-for-18 with a triple, three walks, eight stolen bases, seven runs scored and six driven in.
"Obviously, that's pretty special," Hall said. "I'm going to have to give [last year's winner and former Team Canada teammate Carson] Perkins a tease, saying that I'm following in the footsteps of a great pitcher. But it's pretty special to be able to do that in your last year, as well as to win the tournament."
Right-hander Griffin Hassall got the start for Ontario in the final, and the 16-year-old allowed just one hit and struck out three in two innings. Southpaw Adam Tulloch, also 16, followed out of the bullpen and gave up three unearned runs on one hit with two walks, fanning one Orange batter.
A third 2018 Draft prospect, 6-foot-7, 215-pound Ben Abram allowed one hit and struck out five over three innings for the Black sqaud, using just 16 pitches and throwing only strikes, notching the championship win.
"Ben Abram really impressed me with his pitching in the last game," Hall said. " ... He pitched really well, and that's nice to see for the junior team, as well. I was very impressed with that. He was locating everything, that was good. I'm glad I didn't have to face him."
The feeling between Hall and his Team Canada teammate was mutual.
"No matter what team I'm on, anytime Adam Hall is on my team, he impresses me," the tall righty said. "I have seen him at his best and at his worst, but I have seen some amazing plays. He's made some amazing plays for me. He always seems to find a way on base. I love having him on my team."
The country's top prospects drew a bigger crowd of professional scouts and college recruiters than ever before, with the tournament consistently growing in that department each year.
"It was huge this year," Burton said of the evaluating turnout. "We doubled in schools for sure, and there were a lot of pro scouts given that we had guys like Adam Hall and [2018 catching prospect] Noah Naylor playing here, but that's what builds the tournament. That's what makes the tournament, and that's why we do the tournament, is so the kids can have an opportunity to be seen. So the more schools and scouts we can get here, the better."
Added Orr: "The players really took advantage of an opportunity to get seen by some important people. There were some really important people here this week, and people who are going to be evaluating them, and for the most part they really took advantage of it."
"There's nothing better across the country," Eckstein said. " … As far as the talent's concerned, they get it right every year."
Atlantic Maroon 1, BC Orange 2
After being no-hit for five frames, BC Orange took advantage of Atlantic Maroon's bullpen for a sixth-inning rally to nail down a 2-1 win and stay alive.
Southpaw Garrett Nicholson took the mound for the Atlantic team after throwing three scoreless innings on Friday against the defending-champion Prairies Purple team, allowing just one hit in that appearance. Against BC he did even better, facing just three batters over the minimum with two walks, adding eight strikeouts to the eight batters he fanned in his first outing.
One of the country's top high school prospects heading into next year's Draft, 17-year-old Jason Willow, came through in the clutch for his squad, doubling in BC's first run before coming around to score on a single from second baseman Rhys Cratty to seal the victory. All three Orange hits came off of Maroon reliever Cameron Ritcey, who started and threw four innings on Saturday.
Ontario Black 5, Quebec Blue 1
Paced by center fielder Lucas Parente's two RBI-triples and stellar defense around the diamond, Ontario Black took down Quebec Blue, 5-1, in Monday's second game to ensure that the fourth edition of Tournament 12 would see another new province as its winner.
The 17-year-old out outfielder from Burlington, Ont., drove in the first run of the game and then sparked a four-run rally in the fifth to help his team take their place in the championship final against BC Orange. He added an impressive inning-ending catch in the fourth inning to help stave off Quebec.
Right-hander Noah Skirrow got the start for the Black team, and after throwing four scoreless innings in its first game on Friday, he threw four frames Monday, allowing one run on three hits with two walks and eight strikeouts. Tyler Whalen and Mitchell Stemerdink combined for the final three scoreless innings.