CORNER BROOK Myles Vincent was at a loss for words.
“It was special, I’ll say that ... I don’t know how to describe it, really.”
The 18-year-old pitcher was speaking about his recent silver-medal winning experience with Team Canada at the International Baseball Federation’s 18U World Baseball Championship in Seoul, South Korea.
The son of Brian and Diane Vincent of Corner Brook, Vincent made the team after impressing national junior team head coach Greg Hamilton as a member of the Newfoundland and Labrador Selects at the 2012 Canada Cup baseball tournament in early August.
Hamilton invited the lefty to travel with the Canadian team to Italy for a series of exhibition games, which subsequently earned him a spot with the club officially for the world championship.
Despite ultimately falling short of a gold medal after a 6-2 loss to the United States on Saturday, the silver medal was Canada’s best finish since a gold medal in 1991, which remains the only time this country has ever won the tournament.
“It was a lot more intense,” Vincent said of the different atmosphere of the worlds. “Everything was really serious.”
Perhaps Vincent’s finest moment in the tournament was a seven-inning gem he chucked against the Czech Republic in the round-robin. He only gave up a single run on three hits, with nine strikeouts and three walks. He exited the game with Canada up 3-1.
“I was nervous the first time I pitched, but it was good after that,” he said.
Getting the start
An expected reliever, Vincent didn’t find out he was starting against the Czechs until the day before the game.
“I didn’t think I’d start, so I was pretty excited when that happened.”
He had seen them play in Italy during the pre-tournament exhibition games, so he had some idea of what to expect.
Not that he could’ve seen much that would make him change his game.
“I just wanted to throw strikes and try to hit my spots,” he said of his strategy. “Same as always.”
Vincent started again against the host South Korea team, where he pitched four scoreless innings before getting into a bit of a jam in the fifth, where he hit a couple of batters, walked another and gave up a run with the bases loaded before being replaced.
It was a solid effort against a high-calibre opponent in a pressure cooker situation. Still, Vincent wasn’t satisfied with the one inning that got away from him.
“I was happy with the four innings,” he said. “I sort of ruined it in the fifth.”
That loss was meaningless, as Canada still made the championship game, though Vincent knew his work was over, having just pitched the day before.
He was impressed with the talent of the American team that edged them out for gold.
“They were good,” he said. “Really good actually, but we beat them in the round robin.”
The atmosphere was unlike anything he’s seen before, with large, partisan crowds and cameras everywhere.
“It’s a lot different,” he said. “They’re big baseball fans though.”
He said he heard from coaches and teammates that he played well. All things considered, he probably even exceeded expectations.
“I hope so,” he said.
As he gets set to head back to the Prairie Baseball Academy in Lethbridge, Alta, where he will continue to work with the junior varsity team under head coach Todd Hubka, who had discovered Vincent at the 2011 Canada Cup tournament while in attendance scouting another player.
Already a rising star at the Academy, his world-class experience can only help him soar to greater heights.
“I think I learned a little more as a pitcher, definitely.”