TORONTO-In a battle of two former Olympic teammates and National Teams alumni, it was T.J. Burton’s (Ottawa, ON) ‘Team Burton’ coming out on top with a 9-8 win over Adam Stern’s ‘Team Stern’. A fourteen inning marathon match featured twenty-eight pitchers throwing one inning each.
The game was the culmination of the Mizuno Elite Development Camp, put on by Mizuno Canada, the Toronto Blue Jays, Major League Baseball and Baseball Canada.
It was a fantastic experience,” said Owen Spiwak (Mississauga, ON) of the three-day event. “I learned a great deal and playing here at Rogers Centre was unbelievable.”
Team Stern got on the board first by scoring three runs in the bottom of the second. With the score 1-0, Jake Lumley (Windsor, ON) hit his first of two triples on the game which cashed in two more runs for Team Stern.
In the fourth, Team Burton stormed back courtesy of a Gareth Morgan (Toronto, ON) two-run single only to see Stern’s crew reply with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the frame to make the score 5-2.
After two scoreless innings, Burton’s squad put across three runs to tie the score. Morgan picked up his third RBI of the game with a single and Tyler Hardie (Georgetown, ON) contributed an RBI ground-out.
With Stern’s side up by one run, Team Burton took their first lead of the game with a two-run eleventh inning. Cristopher Acosta Tapia (Montréal, QC) hit a two out, two-run double to right field to give his team a one run edge.
Burton’s club would add two more runs in the twelfth and hold off a late surge from the pesky Stern side to earn the 9-8 win.
“I just let the guys play,” said Burton with a smile, who will now collect a steak dinner from Stern in a pre-game wager between the two long-time friends. “We really just wanted to come out here, have some fun and the 9-8 score shows how close the game really was.”
Players of the Game were given to Jake Lumley from Team Stern and Gareth Morgan from Team Burton. Lumley scored a run, had two RBI and clubbed two triples while Morgan had three RBI and two singles. Both players will receive a baseball glove that was offered up by Mizuno Canada President John Stacey in a presentation to participants earlier in the day.
Burton and Stern also had the opportunity to address the players in the morning about the different paths they took in their amateur and professional baseball careers. It was an opportunity to share stories and more importantly, give some advice to the aspiring professional ball players.
“These kids are very lucky to have this opportunity of attending this camp,” explained Burton who is now the Amateur Baseball Coordinator with the Toronto Blue Jays. “Hopefully they came away from the camp as better baseball players and with a better idea of what it takes to make it to the next level.
Burton is one year removed from playing Triple-A baseball during a ten-year minor league career and has made a smooth transition to working in the Front Office with the Jays.
“Good on Baseball Canada for running this camp and I was happy to be a part of it representing the Toronto Blue Jays organization,” added Burton. “We are big believers in Baseball Canada and support everything they do.
Speaking of the Blue Jays, players were treated with two surprises before they took the field as current Jay Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) met with campers briefly in the hotel lobby and later on the field, Adam Loewen (Surrey, BC), also of the Jays addressed the players as a group. Both Lawrie and Loewen are proud graduates of the Mizuno Camp and wished the players well before taking some questions from their excited audience.
“It was unreal,” said Spiwak. “Knowing that these players were in my shoes not too long ago really makes me want to work hard to reach my goal of becoming a professional baseball player.”
Notes: Some great pitching performances were delivered amongst the twenty-eight players who threw one inning each, which included, Christian Smith (Dartmouth, NS), Jake Shaw (Grand Bay, NB), Hayden Hodgson (Leamington, ON), Nathan Borges (Brooklin, ON) and Blake Weston (Oakville, ON) all tossing perfect frames.