Titans’ Four Teams Make History-- 2020 Fall Ball Games Begin

by Jim Stewart

Four Titans teams took to the field for the first time in franchise history on the weekend of September 12-13, showcasing the growth of the baseball program from two to four clubs amid a Pandemic and its related challenges.   The Boys of Summer transitioned to the Boys of Autumn and played in various venues across Central Ontario with coaches, players, and fans obeying the COVID19 protocols set out by the province and municipalities.  Another challenge during this mid-September weekend was a torrential rain storm that swept through on Sunday to limit the number of games the Titans’ freshly-minted teams could compete in.  A doubleheader sweep by the newly-formed 17U Titans, a doubleheader split by the 18U Titans, and doubleheader losses by the 16U and newly-formed 15U Titans summed up the historical weekend for the Titans Baseball Club.

Despite the epidemiological and meteorological challenges of September, the Titans soldiered on and squeezed in games on Saturday or Sunday. The 18U Titans split a rain-delayed doubleheader on Sunday at the Innisfil Community Centre—winning 4-3 in a tempestuous affair over the Grand River Flying Squirrels after dropping the opener 15-4.  Offensive highlights for the Titans included home runs hit by Alex Kok and Cooper Tomkinson. The newly-comprised 18U Titans coaching staff worked their first set of games together as Head Coach Jeremy Uylenbroek was joined by Assistant Coaches Alex Crocco and Alex Stewart.  The coaching staff was impressed with the 18U’s ability to bounce back in Game 2 to cage the Squirrels after a rough first game in which they were outplayed.  Graham Sim earned the win for the Titans in his first start for the ball club as he dominated the Flying Squirrels.

On Saturday, the 17U Titans kicked off Fall Ball with a pair of wins, much to the delight of its newly-formed coaching staff.  Head Coach Lawrence Vera, Associate Head Coach Dennis Bailey, and Assistant Coach John-Michael Tashos were pleased with their team’s inaugural efforts. The 17U’s defeated the Barrie Baycats 5-1 behind the effective pitching combination of Marquez Allard, Eric Lanoue, Christopher McDonald, and Nolan Thomson. Allard was credited with the victory. In his two innings of work, Allard allowed one hit and no runs while striking out one and walking none.  The bullpen trio of Lanoue, McDonald, and Thomson pitched their team to victory.  Thomson recorded the last three outs to earn the save. The 17U’s scored three runs in the seventh inning to put the game away as Jaxen Lehr and Nolan Thomson contributed timely RBIs to spark the offence. Matt Gallifent went 2-for-3 at the plate.  

The 17U Titans made it an undefeated weekend with a 12-6 victory over the Baycats. The Titans got on the board in the second inning when David James McMaster hit into a fielder's choice, driving in one run. The Titans’ bats broke out in the fifth inning as they tallied six runs based on a balanced attack.  McMaster, Reese Irvin, Faisal Al Ajeel, Tarek Emara, and Nolan Thomson all plated runners with RBIs in the decisive fifth inning.  Al Ajeel pitched masterfully to earn the victory. He went two innings, allowing no runs on no hits, striking out four and walking none. The bullpen was a revolving door of Titans with Jackson Burek, Jaxen Lehr, McMaster, and Matt Gallifent all securing outs and ultimately the victory for the ball club. Thomson, Matt Brandt, Irvin, Wyatt Slocum, and Eric Rutherford each collected one hit versus the Baycats. McMaster led the team with two RBI’s.

The 16U Titans lost a pair of games—10-6 and 10-1-- to the Kingston Colts on Saturday. Despite piling up nine hits, the 16U Titans watched the game slip away early as the Colts pulled away for good with four runs in the second inning. The Titans  notched four runs in the fifth inning in a rally led by RBIs from Niklas Andonovsky, Nate Windle, and Brennan Hedrick. Titans hurler Michael Puranen surrendered six runs on four hits over three innings, striking out two and walking one.  Ethan Sanchez and Ryan Smith entered the game in relief, throwing 2 2/3 innings and 1/3 of an inning, respectively. Ledat, Pontual, Tomlinson, and Andonovsky each managed two hits to lead the Titans offense.

In their 10-1 loss on Saturday to the Colts, Kingston scored five runs in the fourth inning. Justin Shin started the game for Titans. He allowed 11 hits and nine runs over 3 1/3 inning, walking zero.  Adrian D'Arpino threw 2 1/3 innings in relief out of the bullpen. Ryan Ledat and Aidan Gelhard each collected one hit for the Titans.  Despite the doubleheader loss, Head Coach Jesse Barker saw some promising signs on offence for the Titans and his sentiments were echoed by his coaching staff comprised of Assistant Coaches Sean Demelo and Paul Barker. It was disappointing that the home half of the doubleheader was rained out on Sunday.  

The 15U Titans dropped both ends of their doubleheader to the Capital City Reds:  11-2 and 8-3. The coaching staff-- comprised of Head Coach John Bethune and Assistant Coaches Nick Dimpfel and Brayden Byers-- saw much potential in their young squad, despite the lop-sided scores on the weekend.  They played competitive baseball for six innings behind a strong starting performance by Kieren Hernandez. It was a five-run collapse in the seventh inning that resulted in their 8-3 loss.  The 15U’s built an early lead on Max Bai’s second inning double that plated a run and staked the Titans to a 1-0 lead. The Titans also managed to pull even into a 3-3 tie heading into the top of the seventh. Kieren Hernandez allowed five hits and three runs over six innings of work. The Titans starter struck out seven Reds. Christian Ciardulli and Austin Sherman entered the game in relief, throwing 2/3 and 1/3 of an inning, respectively. The Titans offence managed six hits versus the Reds with Bai and Tyler Pridham leading the club with two hits each.

In their 11-2 loss, the Titans fell behind 2-0 after the first inning and the Reds added four more in the fifth to pull away. Sam Puttock started the game for the Titans.  In his four innings of work, he allowed five hits and six runs while striking out seven. Rosario and Fellman worked one inning of relief each. Anthony Cressatti led the Titans offence as he went 2 for 2 at the plate. 

The Titans teams continue their midweek practices with an eye to improving performance on the field next weekend.