Quebec 6 Saskatchewan 5
It was a moment that most baseball players dream of.
With a gold medal and national title on the line Sunday night at the 2023 Canadian Men’s Senior AAA National Championships, Team Quebec delivered in the most memorable of ways.
Tied 5-5 with the Saskatchewan in the bottom of the seventh inning at Great Chief Park in Red Deer, Raphael Gladu played the hero.
Gladu hit a solo home run over the centre field fence for a walk off a gold medal victory 6-5 over Saskatchewan.
He said post-game it was the most important home run he’s ever hit.
“It’s been a couple of years that Quebec didn’t win a championship and now we won,” he said. “I don’t even really remember [hitting the home run]. I was running the bases and I felt like I blacked out.”
Initially, Gladu was just trying to get on base but a strong swing got him a whole lot more.
“I trust my teammates so I’m just going to get on base and they’ll get me home,” he added.
“We’ve had really good chemistry. We’re friends and we’re really grateful to be here.”
Quebec’s victory certainly didn’t come easy.
After they went up 5-1 in the bottom in the bottom of the fifth inning it looked like they were going to run away with it.
A strong push by the Regina Trappers (Saskatchewan) in the sixth inning put Quebec on their heels. Saskatchewan knocked in four runs to tie the game at five.
Gladu explained they felt the pressure but they didn’t let it phase them.
“It was stressful but it makes the game better. I trust my team so I was comfortable about it,” he said.
Quebec head coach Jean-Philippe Lemay when Saskatchewan tied the game his team didn’t panic.
“During the weekend we saw Saskatchewan and what we were told is they were the team to beat,” Lemay said.
“We came here tonight and we had a plan. We were hungry and we were on a mission. We’re leaving here with the gold but most importantly the win is the first for Quebec since 2007 so it’s a big accomplishment for us.”
Quebec was strong in the batter’s box hitting three different home runs on Sunday night.
Gladu went two-for-four at the plate with an RBI. Both Moises Perez and Raphael-John Leblanc both led the way with two RBIs.
Quebec’s starting pitcher David Gauthier five and one third innings striking out four batters and for Saskatchewan Cole Paquin pitched just two and two third innings after allowing three runs.
Lemay added that Quebec worked really hard to get to this point.
“It’s been four years since we were at the Canadian National Championships so it’s about time,” he said. “Everyone had one goal in mind and it was the gold. We can’t be more happier than right now.”
Saskatchewan also had strong appearances at the plate as Nolan Bracken led the way with two RBIs.
Quebec finished the tournament undefeated winning all six games meanwhile Saskatchewan finished 4-2.
“We had a warm welcome here this week,” Lemay said.
“We had fun and it’s an unbelievable story for us.”
Manitoba won bronze after they walked off Nova Scotia 2-1 on Sunday. It was the first medal at nationals for Manitoba since 2007.