Baseball N.S. defeats Ontario to capture historic first-ever Canada Cup
FALL RIVER: It was the strike heard across Canada, and especially loudly in Nova Scotia.
With two out and N.S. ahead of powerful Ontario 3-2 in the top of the seventh at the Baseball Canada Cup in Regina on Aug. 11, Ethan MacLellan of Kennetcook fired a heater past the Ontario batter for strike three, sending his Bluenose U-17 teammates, including an LWF baseball alum, streaming onto the field in wild exuberance at what had just happened.
Nick Gravel, a shortstop, and Shane Cowan, who saw time at first and second base during the tournament, were both key contributors to the team’s history making gold medal victory. It’s the first-ever time Baseball Nova Scotia has won a Under-17 national championship.
And it turns out Gravel’s run that made it 3-0 stands as the game winner for N.S.
“It won us the game now that I think of it,” said Gravel, a Vauxhall Academy prospect. “It’s just crazy that my run was the winner.”
Both commended Ethan MacLellan for his fortitude in coming in with the bases full, and mowing down the three Ontario batters he faced all by the strikeout.
“At first I was nervous because they are team Ontario and had the bases loaded, and the heart of their order was up,” said Gravel. “Ethan just pounded the zone and shut them down.”
“He told me it was his first time ever coming out of the bullpen. He was lights out,” added Cowan. “That was the hardest I’ve ever seen him throw. It was fun to watch.”
In the championship game, Duncan McLaughlin struck out nine Ontario batters while surrendering one earned run before giving way to MacLellan.
Cowan and Gravel admitted the reality of their feat hasn’t quite set in yet. They also were unaware of the magnitude of the accomplishment until after the huddle following the win.
“It was just surreal,” said Cowan of seeing the final out and that they had won. “I felt like I was in a dream when I ran out there on the field.
“When they started bringing the (championship) hats out, it was like we were in a movie.”
Gravel was on the field at the time.
“It was insane,” he said. “I just ran in to the huddle.”
Holding the gold medal as they’re interviewed inside Tim Hortons in Fall River “feels great.”
Both were confident the way their pitchers were controlling the game, they were coming away with nothing but gold. Even if they had lost, silver would still have marked the teams best finish ever, so Ontario was under the gun. And couldn’t come through.
“They (Ontario) were on their heels,” said Gravel. “I knew we were going to win. You just had that feeling.”
Both are soaking it in, as are most of the players.
“This could be our only time winning it, and being able to tell our grandkids and have pour names attached to it is crazy,” said Gravel.
“It’s an honour and really special to be part of history,” added Cowan. “We get to say we were part of it.”
The support from back home has left both players phones blowing up with texts and notifications on Instagram and Snapchat.
“Everyone is super excited for us,” said Cowan.
They hope that their accomplishment will lay the foundation within the LWF Baseball Association for the younger kids.
“I was once like those kids looking up to players on our national team,” said Cowan. “I hope I can be a role model for those kids.”
What was key for the championship win?
“We just played as team, and it all worked out in the end,” said Gravel.