EDMONTON – Stosh Wawrzasek (Langley, BC) was too much to handle and the Canadian offense took advantage of some mistakes from Italy in the opening game of the World Junior Baseball Championship in Edmonton tonight as Canada would go on to win by a score of 7-0.
Wawrzasek was virtually untouchable as the Milwaukee Brewers prospect would scatter only two hits collect 12 strikeouts over seven innings on the mound. He struck out the side in both the second and sixth innings.
“The game plan was just to throw strikes,” says Wawrzasek. “I just went out there and pounded the zone just so I could get a feel (for the hitters) and the second time around I’d know what to do.”
“It’s a good start for the whole team. It’s a great way to start our tournament, especially with the run support we have.”
Canada got on the board quickly with a sacrifice fly from Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) scored Ivan Hartle (North Vancouver, BC) in the first inning and give the Canadians the 1-0 lead.
With the score 2-0 for Canada going into the sixth inning, the Juniors would put the game away by putting up four runs in the frame, highlighted by Lawrie’s first home run of the tournament.
“I had a 2-0 count and I knew he was going to bring me a fastball and I just put a good swing on it,” says Lawrie of his home run.
The Canadians would add their seventh run in the seventh inning on a RBI double from Michael Crouse (Port Moody, BC) to bring in Marcus Knecht (Toronto, ON).
In the end, the Juniors came into this game not taking anything for granted, which is exactly what JNT Manager Greg Hamilton wants out of his team.
“When you play teams like that it’s never easy and you have to grind it out,” says Hamilton. “Stosh did a great job of pounding the strike zone and that’s what you need from your pitchers.”
With the win, Canada is now 1-0, and they already have a chance to put themselves in the driver’s seat tomorrow after an upset earlier in the day when Puerto Rico defeated Cuba by a score of 5-4.
Up next for Canada will be Chinese Taipei. They are a team that the Canadians are very familiar with having played them six times since July 15th.
“We’ve got to come out with some energy,” says Hamilton. “They do the little things right and they force you to make plays. We have to come out with an intensity level that exceeds theirs and I like our chances.”
Canada will face Chinese Taipei on Saturday, July 26 starting at 7:05 pm at Telus Field. Nick Bucci (Sarnia, ON) is scheduled to get the start on the mound for Canada.