ORLANDO – The Junior National Team could not hold on to a late inning lead as the Atlanta Braves took the lead in the seventh inning and never looked back, defeating the Juniors by a score of 9-5 in Fall Instructional League action.
The game was scoreless until the fourth inning when the Canadians opened the scoring when Darren Kolk (Mill Bay, BC) hit a bases loaded double driving in Larry Balkwill (Chatham, ON), Tyler McWhirter (Regina, SK) and Jeff Hunt (Cambridge, ON) to give Canada a 3-0 lead.
On the mound, Jake Eliopoulos (Newmarket, ON) was dominant for the Canadians to start the game. He threw two innings, allowing only a walk while striking out two.
Jerome Werniuk (Toronto, ON) came in relief of Eliopoulos and was solid in his first two innings of work. The Braves would catch up to him in the fifth inning, scoring two runs against him, first on a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded and again on a sacrifice fly, this time with Brian Bardis (St, Constant, QC) on the mound.
Werniuk ended his day after two and a third innings, giving up two runs on one hit and five walks with one strikeout. Bardis went two-thirds innings, allowing only a walk while striking out one.
The Canadians added to their lead in the sixth inning when Jeff Hunt hit a two-run double, scoring Larry Balkwill and Mike Washburn (Fredericton, NB) to give Canada a 5-2 lead.
That lead would be short lived as Atlanta tied it up in the bottom of the sixth, scoring three runs on four walks and two hits against Johnathan Solazzo (Mississauga, ON) to make it 5-5.
A leadoff triple in the seventh inning, followed by a pair of singles by the Braves against Evan Zerff (Regina, SK) gave Atlanta their first lead of the game, putting themselves ahead by a score of 6-5.
The Braves added three runs to their lead in the eighth inning on three walks and two hits and an error to take a 9-5 lead.
Those would be the final runs of the game. Joel Pierce (Windsor, ON) finished things off for the Canadians by pitching a perfect ninth inning to shut things down.
Next up for the Junior National Team at the Fall Instructional League camp, the Juniors will take on the Washington Nationals at 1 pm on Thursday, October 9.
Bob Elliott article