Oshawa - - The gorgeous Saturday morning in Oshawa set the stage for a perfect day at the ballpark as the players selected to the PBLO All-Star teams played exciting and high-class baseball, showcasing the talent Ontario baseball holds. Despite a rain delay that ended the 16U contest, the players’ spirits were not dampened as they had a fantastic time getting to know their competition on a personal level. An incredible accomplishment to take part in one of the premier events of the season, the day should be a memory that the players will not forget for a long time.
“Getting together and playing and being back on the diamond has been a wonderful thing this summer after two years of interruptions and lockdowns, so to see the kids back at this level, the kids are really excited and I couldn’t be happier that baseball Oshawa is hosting the PBLO All-Star Games,” said Ken Babcock, President of Baseball Oshawa and the Director of Elite Programs. “It’s just a big-league day for them to feel big league and feel like an All-Star.”
“It feels great! I love these kinds of things. I love the pressure, I love the spotlight, that’s what I live for,” Said Allon Seepersaud, the starting pitcher for the 16U East. Seepersaud, a pitcher for the 16U Oshawa Legionaires, began the game fantastic with two scoreless innings, racking up a couple of strikeouts. However, an aspect of the game he enjoyed most was the social component, especially being on the same side as the other East players. “I actually got to talk to them instead of just pitched to them. It’s nice.”
The pregame ceremony began with the first pitch by the PBLO President, Don Campbell. Despite a sore arm, he fired a quick strike to commence the beginning of the festivities.
The game began with the East scoring a pair of runs in the top of the first. The West struck back shortly after with two of their own. The score was at a stall for much of the remainder of the game due to extraordinary plays in the field which stopped potential rallies.
Garrett Rochon of the Ottawa-Nepean Canadians used his athleticism to make a diving grab on a ball slicing toward the right-field foul line, saving extra bases. I say he used his athleticism because Rochon is not a regular outfielder and was only filling in for a couple of innings.
The West eventually pulled ahead scoring three runs in the late innings before play was delayed after thunder shook the stadium and dark clouds loomed over the field, leading to a rain storm.
After a quick half-hour of torrential rain with two outs in the top of the ninth inning, the 16U All-Star Game was called as puddles began to fill the infield. Luckily, all players were able to get action so no player was left out of the festivities. While a tight game throughout, the West defeated the East by a score of 5-3. However, in a cheeky fashion, the East said they had all the momentum and were going to make the comeback in the bottom of the ninth.
Meanwhile, in the 18U game, the game was able to begin on time with great help from the ground screw and coaches filling in as extra bodies to help rake and remove the excess water that flooded the infield. After three hours hard at work, the field was fully playable to give the 18U the chance to showcase their stuff.
The first half of the game was dominated by the pitchers, as both sides pitched scoreless gems through the first five innings. But, the West managed to score in each of the final four innings, taking the game by a score of 5-0 over the East.
First-baseman Noah Williams of the London Badgers was a standout offensively, smashing two hits with a high exit velocity with a run scored.
At the end of the contest, team MVPs were given out. Infielder Chris Godden of the London Badgers won it in the East, showing his speed on the bases. For the West, Adrian Yamasaki of the Ottawa-Nepean Canadians was awarded the achievement with his amazing catch in center-field. Hall of Fame writer, Bob Elliott awarded both the player-of-the-game honours.
“[The All-Star Game] is a unique thing and it’s something that I hope can continue being an annual event for the PBLO,” Ken Babcock said when describing the importance of the event. The reception from players, parents, and fans was overwhelmingly positive. As much as it was a spectacle on the field with scouts in the stands, this was the first time for many of the players to interact with players from the other team in a friendly, no-stakes environment and share their passion: baseball.