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U18s show resilience after big opening loss

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Oshawa Legionaires first baseman Andy Nopper eyes down a throw during the club’s home opener at Kinsmen Stadium on May 3. The club went on to lose 15-4 to the strong Mississauga team, but rebounded against Newmarket later in the week with a 6-3 win.

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

The start of the U18 elite league season didn’t go exactly as planned for the Oshawa Legionaires, losing the home opener 15-4 to the Mississauga North Tigers.

However, head coach Daryl Macklem says he’s not worried.

“It was a little bit disheartening,” he admits. “(But) I think we showed we could play with them.”

It was pitching that made the difference when it mattered and Macklem says his arms just seemed to lose the strike zone at key moments. Throughout the game, approximately 18 Tigers found their way on base on balls, and several of those baserunners would find home plate. After only two innings, the Legionaires were trailing 8-0.

However, Oshawa wasn’t about to let their seasoner opener go that easily, putting together a solid inning that cut the lead in half.

“They kept fighting through it,” Macklem says.

Disaster on the mound would strike again for Oshawa late in the game, putting the match out of reach.

After only a single game, Macklem says he’s not concerned, and adds that the Mississauga team, known for being strong offensively, was also full of players in their final year of midget, a much older group than his Legionaires.

“When I left the ball park that night, obviously I was upset with the score, but I wasn’t upset with our guys at all,” he says.

It was Oshawa’s Noah St. Bernard who led off on the mound, but was pulled after only two and half innings replaced by Isaiah Quick. And while Macklem admits his pitchers may have been their downfall, he remains confident the team will rebound going later into the season.

And they did the very next game as the Legionaires faced off on the road against Newmarket on May 9 turning out a 6-3 victory.

“We got off to a slow start,” Macklem says.

In what appeared to be a nightmare repeat of their first game, the club fell behind quickly 3-0 after the first two innings.

Again, similar to their opener, the Legionaires showed their resilience and tied the game in the third inning, going on to add three more and tighten up defensively for the win.

Brendan Robertson pitched five strong innings for the victory while Josh Arce came in relief pitching three strong innings.

“Defensively, we made the plays when we needed to,” Macklem says. “(It was) a much better game.”

The club’s next home game is May 7 at 7:30 at Kinsmen Stadium.