Reigning U19 Men’s Fast Pitch Canadians MVP Riley Manion will have a chance to defend his title later this month, though his opportunity comes in a roundabout way.
With no U23 team in his hometown Napanee, Manion latched on with the Cobourg Bulls for the season.
Playing for a trip to the U23 Fast Pitch Canadians earlier this month, the Bulls were knocked out early at eliminations, leaving them on the outside of the top three Ontario teams who advance to nationals in Saskatoon.
Cobourg’s loss was Tavistock’s gain however, as the second seeded Hops drafted Manion as a pick-up to help bolster their national roster.
“We had a real good team, but things didn’t go our way and we didn’t end up qualifying,” Manion said of the Bulls. “I’m happy to still be able to go to the tournament and to be able to play for Tavistock. It’ll be a fun tournament.”
If Manion can replicate the success he had at the U19 level last summer in Napanee, the Hops will have made quite the acquisition. Manion went 8-1 for the gold medal winning U19 AFW Construction Express last August, delivering a 1.72 ERA over 56.2 innings, striking out 101 batters. In the gold medal game he pitched a complete game over the Chepstow Lang Farms, earning him the playoff MVP title.
Pitching for the Hops, he will be without his longtime battery mate Brendan Hagerman.
“Brendan played with the Bulls too, it was nice having him there,” said Manion. “It’ll be a bit of a change having to throw to a different catcher. They’ve got a good catcher so I’m not too worried about it, it’ll just be a little bit different getting used to it. I’ve been throwing to Hags for almost five years now.”
The U23 Men’s Canadian Fast Pitch Championship will run July 30-Aug. 4 in Saskatoon, Sask.
Saskatoon will be a hot bed for national championships over the next few weeks. The Napanee Peewee Express will be there July 27-31 for the U14 Boy’s Canadians. From July 31-Aug. 4 the Napanee Spud’s Restaurant Bantam Express will represent Ontario at the U16 Canadians, also in Saskatoon.