Legion Baseball: Moro, Johnston lead Calgary to Firecracker title
Dan Moro is perfectly comfortable with an aluminum bat in his hands.
The speedy center fielder and leadoff hitter for the Calgary (Alberta) Jr. Dinos baseball team — who are required to use wood bats as a rule for players in their late teens in Canadian baseball — was on the Calgary Redbirds team that used aluminum to win last year's Firecracker 92 American Legion tournament in Rochester.
He also has a full season of college baseball under his belt now, having hit .323 while playing for Hamline University in St. Paul this past season.
So the adjustment time was minimal this weekend for Moro and the Dinos, who traded their wood bats for aluminum for five games and went unbeaten to win the Firecracker 92 tournament. Moro and No. 3 hitter Wiley Johnston led the Dinos to a 12-6 victory against Mahtomedi in the championship game on Sunday at Alumni Field at John Adams Middle School.
"After a couple of swings in the cage, you get the feel for (the aluminum bat) again," said Moro, who was 3-for-4 with a double, a triple, two RBIs and two runs scored in the championship game. "With the wood bats, you really have to find the sweet spot in order to hit it hard. That maybe gives us an advantage."
Like Moro, Dinos first baseman Johnston also has a year of college experience, playing for the hometown University of Calgary. Johnston, who is batting better than .500 with close to 20 home runs for the Dinos, went 4-for-4 Sunday with a double, two home runs, four RBIs and four runs scored.
"He's been doing that all year," Moro said. "We joke around a lot. He always says 'you get on and I'll hit you in.'"
That strategy worked Sunday, as Calgary scored two runs in the first inning when — what else? — Moro led off with a bunt single and Johnston followed two batters later by blasting the first of his two homers over the 370-foot sign in center field.
"The ball comes off the bat a lot quicker with the metal bats (as opposed to wood)," Johnston said. "We finally all figured it out. We didn't practice with them, we just picked them up and started playing.
"Everybody was swinging the bats well today. We put it all together and crushed the ball."
The Dinos tacked on four runs in the third — including doubles by Moro and Johnston and an RBI single by Joel Mazurkewich — to build a 6-1 lead. After Mahtomedi pulled within 6-3, the Dinos batted around in the fifth, scoring five times to pull away for an 11-3 lead. Johnston led off that inning with his second homer of the game and catcher Mike Belliveau followed with a solo homer.
The Dinos had 15 hits in the game.
"What's so great about this team is that everyone does their job," Moro said. "Not everyone is going up there trying to hit it over the fence."
The Dinos improved to 46-6 with the victory and are on a 30-game winning streak. They haven't lost since a 6-0 setback to the Vauxhall (Alberta) Jets on May 19.
Calgary 12, Mahtomedi 6
Mahtomedi: Alex Boben 2-for-3, 2B, RBI, R; Alex Noel 2-for-4, 3 RBIs; Michael Claude 2-for-3, RBI, R. LP: Sean Noel 2 1/3 IP, 6 R, 6 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, 0 K.
Calgary: Dan Moro 3-for-4, 2B, 3B, 2 RBIs, 2 R; Wylie Johnston 4-for-4, 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 4 R; Mike Belliveau 2-for-4, HR, RBI, 2 R; Alex Bishop 2-for-4, 2B; Matt Zanutto 2-for-3, 2B, RBI, R. WP: Cole Beattie 4 2/3 IP, 3 R, 1 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 2 K.