EDMONTON – The Junior National Team brought in six runs in the top of the ninth to come from behind and beat Puerto Rico by a score of 9-6.
The Juniors came into the frame trailing 6-3 after Puerto Rico broke a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the eighth inning by scoring three runs. However, Canada would tie it up with one swing of the bat as Carter Morrison (Langley, BC) hit a three-run home run to bring the Juniors back to even.
“I was just working the count and got it to 3-1 when he threw me a fastball inside, which I had been waiting for all night and I turned on it,” says Morrison of his home run.
Canada would then load the bases for Ivan Hartle (North Vancouver, BC), who would draw the walk to drive in the winning run for the Canadians. Jonathan Gilbert (St-Georges, QC) would hit a RBI single and Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) would drive in a run on a sacrifice fly to put Canada ahead by three.
From there, Mike Monster (Kelowna, BC) went to the mound to close things out and got Jan Vazquez to strikeout for the final out and seal the victory.
“These are not easy games when your goals and objectives go out the window the night before,” says JNT Manager Greg Hamilton. “Even though you’re only playing for placement, it does make a difference and it does matter and I’m glad to see we were able to dig deep in the end and win that.”
Lost in the big ninth inning by the Canadians was the performance of starting pitcher Evan Grills (Whitby, ON), who would go seven strong innings, allowing three runs on three hits and five walks with seven strikeouts.
“I was just trying to throw strikes and get ahead of batters,” says Grills. “I wanted to use my defense so I was a bit surprised by the number of strikeouts tonight.”
Puerto Rico opened the scoring in the second inning when a pair of Canadian errors would allow a run to score and give Puerto Rico a 1-0 lead.
Canada would immediately respond in the top of the third on a RBI single from Brett Lawrie to drive in James Kottaras (Markham, ON) and tie things up at 1-1.
Canada would add two more in the top of the fourth inning on a RBI double from Luke Willson (Lasalle, ON) and a RBI from Kottaras and put the Juniors ahead by two.
Puerto Rico would make things interesting by scoring one run in the fifth inning and another in the sixth to tie up the game and setup the late inning dramatics.
Next up for the Junior National Team will be Chinese Taipei, who beat Mexico 1-0 earlier in the day. They will face off to see who will finish in fifth place. Game time is at 10:00 am in St. Albert.