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Local players shine at the World Baseball Classic

Story and picture By DENIS GIBBONS

One learned how to hit in an abandoned warehouse in east Burlington. The other toed the rubber as a kid in the Stoney Creek Optimist Little League, which qualified the team that represented Canada at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania in 1965.

Owen Caissie and Noah Skirrow have helped put the Bay Area on the map playing for Canada at the World Baseball Classic.

Caissie, just 20, homered against Great Britain and drove in a key run in the late innings as the Canadians shut out Colombia 5-0. His home run ball hit the centre field wall at Chase Field in Phoenix above the yellow line, but he was smart enough to sprint around the bases anyway in case it was ruled a double.

Caissie’s run-scoring single made the score 2-0, setting the stage for a three-run homer by Otto Lopez, a candidate to make the Toronto Blue Jays this season.

The first stop of Caissie’s pro career was in Burlington’s sister city Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where he played for the Cubs affiliate Myrtle Beach Pelicans. He spent last summer with the South Bend, Indiana, Cubs of the Midwest League.

Skirrow was the winning pitcher, throwing five innings of scoreless ball and holding the Colombians to only two hits.

Canada finished the preliminary round with a record of 2-2, narrowly missing advancing to the quarterfinals.

Caissie, who was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2020, then traded to the Chicago Cubs in the deal that sent Japanese pitching star Yu Darvish to San Diego, is a product of the Fieldhouse Pirates elite youth team, which calls Nelson Park home during the summer, and trains all winter in the warehouse on Harvester Road.

A native of Cambridge, Skirrow was raised in Stoney Creek and graduated from Cardinal Newman high school.

He played elite baseball for the Ontario Blue Jays before accepting a baseball scholarship to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

In 2022, he pitched for the Reading Fightin Phils of the Class AA Eastern League and the Lehigh Valley IronPigs of the Triple- A International League. He is trying to land a spot on the roster of the Philadelphia Phillies this season and has already made an appearance with last year’s World Series finalists in spring training.

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