Tournament 12 gets underway with exciting slate of games

Tournament 12 gets underway with exciting slate of games

TORONTO -- If there was a lesson to be learned during the first day of games at the Tournament 12 showcase, it was to not count any team out.

Wednesday's slate of games were filled with come-from-behind victories, as the top amateur talent across the nation produced non-stop excitement at Rogers Centre.

Alberta-Red and Prairies-Purple, playing the final contest of the day, made sure to save the best for last.

The game was scoreless before a five-run fifth inning gave the Prairies, which rocked Quebec-Blue, 10-1, in its first matchup, a comfortable lead. But Alberta refused to quit.

Alberta scored two in the bottom half of the fifth, and two more in the sixth before completing the comeback by plating another pair in the seventh. Zack Kunkel delivered the final blow with a walk-off single to propel Alberta to a 6-5 win.

Nolan Rattai injected new life into his Alberta team by hitting the tournament's first home run, a shot over the left-field fence to lead off the sixth, making it a 5-3 game. It was the first time the 17-year-old had gone deep in a big league stadium. He didn't hold back his emotions, describing the home run as an "amazing" moment, but stressed how his team's result was much more important than his personal achievement.

"If we don't win that game, that bomb doesn't really feel as good at all," said Rattai, who was one of two Alberta batters with a multihit contest.

It's Rattai's second appearance at Tournament 12 after competing in the 2013 inaugural event, so he's taken on a leadership role with the team. His message to his fellow teammates is simple.

"Act like it's another day out at the park like you are at home," he said. "Just stay loose; you are here for a reason."

Before the bats came to life, starters Andrew Grieder of Alberta and the Prairies' B.J. Moen were mowing down hitters. Grieder allowed one hit and struck out six over three innings, while Moen also allowed one hit over three frames and punched out three. Moen flashed one of the better fastballs on the day, as the right-hander's heater comfortably sat in the mid-80s and topped out higher.

The Prairies, a team made up of players from Manitoba and Saskatchewan, looked like it would become the first team to win twice before Alberta pulled off the upset. It was still a strong day for the underdogs, however, as eight of the Prairies' nine hitters recorded at least one hit in the team's first game, while a trio of pitchers combined to limit Quebec to one run on two hits.

Alberta, which improved to 1-1 by defeating the Prairies, lost its first contest of the day to an Ontario-Black team missing some key components.

Even without Josh Naylor and Demi Orimoloye, Ontario-Black had little trouble topping Alberta, 6-2, in the early-morning showdown.

Naylor and Orimoloye -- considered by many, including scouts in attendance at Tournament 12, to be the top two amateur players in Canada -- were unable to make the start of the showcase after they were left stranded in Mexico with the rest of the Canadian Junior National Team due to Hurricane Odile. The team made its way out of the disaster-stricken area Wednesday after being held up in Mexico for a few days and is expected to return to Canada on Thursday, paving the way for Naylor and Orimoloye to potentially participate in the final days of the tournament.

On Wednesday, the Ontario-Black team didn't need the duo, as a collection of three pitchers, including starter Dallas Taylor, limited Alberta to one hit to improve to 1-0.

Alberta starter Kurt Meeberg held his own, punching out four over three scoreless innings, before Ontario-Black tagged Nikolas Cardinal for five runs on six hits to blow the game open.

There were plenty of more thrills on a day which saw Futures-Navy -- the youngest of eight teams -- notch a come-from-behind 4-3 victory over Atlantic-Grey on a walk-off single from Luke Van Rycheghem.

The Futures dropped its other contest, 7-3, to Ontario-Green, a team which features Tristan Pompey -- the brother of Blue Jays outfielder Dalton Pompey. The younger Pompey went 2-for-4 and scored twice in the victory.

Atlantic (0-2) also lost its first game of the day by a score of 5-2 to British Columbia-Orange, which used a combination of strong pitching and timely hitting to come out on top. British Columbia first baseman Dakota Curry put his team on the board and tied the game at 2 with a two-run double in the sixth before Trevor Lofstrom played the role of hero the following inning.

Lofstrom snapped the tie game by driving in a pair with a bases-loaded double in the seventh before British Columbia tacked on another run with a sacrifice fly later in the frame to take a three-run advantage. Matteo Vincelli struck out two in the home half of the inning to help British Columbia secure the victory. Vincelli recorded five strikeouts over two scoreless innings of relief, while starter Will McAffer fanned six over three innings.

All at-bats start with the count set at 1-1 and the games last seven innings.

The eight teams have been divided into two groups of four and play squads from their own bracket in the round-robin portion of the tournament, which runs through Saturday morning. Once the tournament play portion is completed, the top two teams from each group will advance to the playoff round to determine the finalists for the 2014 Tournament 12 championship, which will be played Saturday at 6 p.m. ET.

Chris Toman is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.