By KEVIN GLEW – Canadian Baseball Network
Alberta second baseman Eric Hartman (St. Albert, Alta.) hit a grand slam and made Canada Summer Games history on Tuesday.
His bases-clearing homer in the second inning in Alberta’s 6-1 win over Quebec at Oakes Park Stadium in Niagara Falls, Ont., gave him 12 RBIs in the 2022 tournament, which breaks the record for most RBIs in a single Canada Games set by Kevin Mailloux (Windsor, Ont.) who had 10 for Team Ontario in 2005.
“It’s pretty cool [to break the record],” said Hartman after the game. “This might be my first time and last time being here [at the Canada Summer Games], so it’s pretty cool to be part of history.”
The grand slam was the key hit in Alberta’s six-run second inning which propelled them to a victory over Quebec, in a battle of the two unbeaten Pool B teams.
Hartman, an Okotoks Dawgs Academy infielder and the younger brother of Max, who has committed to Washington State., is now 7-for-14 and has scored seven runs in this year’s Canada Games.
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“I just try to stick to my system. I always get my work done and do what I can to control the game,” said Hartman, when asked about his current hot streak. “If I mess up, I just drop it, leave it behind me and go for the next pitch.”
Alberta head coach Dwayne Lalor has been impressed by Hartman.
“He’s a very good ballplayer,” said Lalor. “He works hard at what he does and he plays the game with a lot of enthusiasm . . . He’s been our driver really. He’s been driving the bus and we’re in the fast lane, just as long as we stay there.”
And while Hartman supplied the offence in Alberta’s win on Tuesday afternoon, it was left-hander Jaxon Zanolli (Olds, Alta.) who dominated on the mound, allowing just one run on three hits, while striking out six, in six innings.
“This was his one show and he went deep in this game and we decided that if he was going to be good enough to win this game we were going to leave him in,” said Lalor. “Jackson did a heckuva job today, getting six complete against a good hitting ball club. It was wonderful to see.”
Making his third appearance of the tournament, right-hander Mitchell Heinrich (Vermilion, Alta.) closed out the game for Alberta with a nervous ninth, loading the bases, but escaping without allowing a run.
Nathan Flewelling (Red Deer, Alta.) and Simon Baker (Calgary, Alta.) also knocked in runs for Alberta.
The previously unbeaten Quebec squad tallied their only run in the fourth inning when DH Justin Anctil (Saint Gabriel, Que.) singled with one out to score first baseman Edouard Tardiff (Trois-Riviéres, Que.).
With the win, Alberta moves to 4-0. Lalor says he likes the way his team has gelled.
“We’ve got a great mix of players,” he said. “We’ve got players from all over the province that spent many years playing against each other and now they’re playing together and guys that live 400 miles apart are hanging out together in the cafeteria and having fun at the dorm and it’s really helping our team . . . They’re coming together really well.”
Lalor also likes the position his team is in in the standings.
“It’s nice right now that we are sitting with the lead in our pool, but we still have games to go,” he said. “And we need to take care of business tomorrow. We’re playing Manitoba which is a good ball club.”
Retrieving Hartman’s home run balls
Hartman’s grand slam travelled over the right field wall at Oakes Park Stadium and was retrieved by a young girl who brought it to the Alberta dugout to give it to him.
“I just gave it back to her, so she got it,” said Hartman. “So hopefully it made her day.”
The St. Albert, Alta., native also homered against Newfoundland & Labrador in Alberta’s 17-7 win on Monday morning at Welland Baseball Stadium. It was Hartman’s mother, who’s serving as an official scorekeeper at the tournament, who walked out and retrieved that ball.
“That was pretty cool,” said Hartman. “I saw her in left field chasing the ball, so I said that one was for you.”