Matt Deneau brings home Canada Cup gold & top defensive player honours

 

By Joel Charron

Matthew Deneau has certainly had a good summer.

The 17-year-old, St. Thomas of Villanova catcher has recently returned from the U17 Canada Cup tournament in London, Ontario with a gold medal around his neck and defensive player of the tournament honours to go along with it.

Not bad for a kid who almost was left off the team because of an arm injury.

Deneau, who plays for the Windsor Selects was approached to try out for Team Ontario in July. Team Ontario was putting together a team for the Canada Cup, which took place Aug. 8-13.

Deneau attended the main try out and was named to the 40-man roster, however during batting practice the young catcher injured his arm.

“I wanted to get back out there as soon as I could,” said Deneau. “The tournament wasn’t until three weeks after the final try out so I did have some time to rest my arm and heal as best as I could.”

Deneau admits the final two weeks leading up to the Canada Cup he felt very nervous and didn’t know if he would even be on the team.

Going into the final week of player cuts, Deneau said he planned on waiting one more week in order to give his arm more rest, however the coaches told Deneau  if he didn’t play over the weekend that they would not be able to give him a roster spot.

 

Matthew Deneau holds the U17 Canada Cup trophy shortly after winning Gold on Aug. 13.

Deneau played that weekend and secured his spot on the team.

“There was no question that I was going to play,” said Deneau. “I worked really hard all season and I wasn’t going to let this opportunity just slip away.”

With his roster spot secure, Deneau headed up to London with Team Ontario on Aug. 8.

On the opening day of the tournament, Team Ontario squared off against Team Quebec.

Deneau said the opening game was the most never racking because he didn’t know what to expect, however once the 17-year-old found his rhythm within the game, everything slowed down and Deneau slid into his groove and Team Ontario pulled off the win.

“It was a good game that went back and forth,” said Deneau. “I was a little jumpy at first but I quickly calmed down as soon as the game started.”

Team Ontario blazed their way to the championship, defeating every team they faced.

Deneau, who started in the first game, sat out in the second game but eventually won the starting catching spot.

In the finals, Team Ontario matched up against Team British Columbia.

After British Columbia built a 3-1 lead going into the fourth innings, Team Ontario would score eight runs over the next two innings and managed to hold off a talented British Columbia squad for a 9-8 win and the gold medal.

“The final inning was a one-two-three inning and when we got that final out, it was just crazy,” he said.

Deneau finished the tournament with a .429 batting average.

The 17-year-old said playing baseball for Team Ontario at this level was a “rush” he’s never felt before.

“The competition at this tournament was outstanding,” he said. “You have to play at your best everyday. There is no taking days off here. You have to work your butt off if you want to move forward.”

Deneau was named the tournaments top defensive player.

“I really don’t know how to put it into words,” he said. “Being named the tournaments top defensive player is an honour.”

Deneau said playing for Team Ontario was the “best experience of his life” and feels he saved his best baseball for the tournament.

“That was easily the best I’ve ever played,” he boasted.

After seeing how well he has handled himself in pressure situations, Deneau now has his eye on a spot on Team Canada.

“I want to play baseball at the highest level I can,” said Deneau.

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