BRANDON – It was a tightly contested pitcher’s duel, but Chinese Taipei was able to break a 1-1 tie in the top of the ninth to earn a 4-1 win over the Junior National Team.
Chinese Taipei had runners on second and third with two outs when they came thru with a two-run single to make it 3-1. An error allowed an additional run to score, giving the team from Taiwan a three-run lead.
The Juniors however made some noise in the bottom of the ninth. Ivan Hartle (North Vancouver, BC) led off the inning by drawing a walk, followed by a single from James Kottaras (Markham, ON). After Marcus Knect (Toronto, ON) drew a walk to load the bases, Lionel Morrill (Edmonton, AB) hit a laser into the center field gap, but the Taiwanese center fielder came up with a great running catch to end any hopes of a Canadian comeback.
“We played ok, but they played very well,” says JNT Manager Greg Hamilton. “They deserved to win tonight. They pitched well. They made some adjustments on the mound. They opened us up with some of speed pitches and tried to slow us down a little at the plate and they were very effective.”
All told, the Juniors were held to one run on three hits, but Hamilton sees some definite positives in the loss.
“This game helped them realize that winning a world championship is not easy. The first two games in Thunder Bay we thought we’d just have our way with these guys and maybe have our way with everybody, but sixty feet six inches is a great equalizer and they pitched well tonight.”
The loss put a damper on the solid performance of the Canadian pitchers as François Lafreniere (St-Bruno, QC) and Danny Britton-Foster (Ladysmith, BC) both had solid outings on the mound in this game.
Lafreniere got the start for Canada and threw four innings, giving up only one run on three hits and a walk.
“I just threw strikes and tried to keep my pitch count low,” says Lafreniere. “I just tried to keep the ball low and use my defense to get some quick outs and I think I did that tonight.”
Britton-Foster threw three shutout innings in relief of Lafreniere, allowing only one hit with three strikeouts in his outing.
Benson Merritt (Smithville, ON) pitched a one-two-three eighth inning before getting into trouble in the ninth, allowing three runs on three hits, a walk and an error. He got the three outs of the inning via strikeout.
The Junior National Team makes its way to Winnipeg on Saturday to once again take on Chinese Taipei on their Canadian tour. Game time is 7:00 pm at CanWest Global Field.