St. Petersburg, Florida- Five pitchers combined to shutout the Seoul Nexen Heroes including Pitching Coach Mike Johnson (Edmonton, AB), who picked up the save, as the Junior National Team recorded their first win of the spring 2-0.
“Michael Foster was giving me the gears around the 6th inning saying ‘what if we all put up zeroes,” said Johnson about feeling the pressure to hold down the victory. “I just tried to throw strikes and pitch to contact and hopefully the kids watch and take something away from it.”
Clayton Isherwood (Van Anda, BC) set the tone on the mound for the JNT by allowing only one hit, striking out two and giving up one walk through two innings of work.
Isherwood was relieved by Michael Clouthier (Guelph, ON) who benefitted from a fine double play that was turned by Justin Atkinson (Surrey, BC) and Kyle Hann (Oakville, ON) to end the inning with the Heroes threatening.
In the bottom half of the frame Dustin Houle (Penticton, BC) grounded into a double-play that brought Hann in from third base to score Canada’s first run of the game. Hann had reached after he was hit by a pitch and advanced to third base on a single from Jerod Bartnik (Langley, BC).
The strong defence continued in the 5th inning when Logan Seifrit (Spruce Grove, AB) took the mound. With runners on second and third with two out, Atkinson fielded a ball deep in the hole at shortstop and threw to first where Brendan Hendriks (Cochrane, AB) scooped the ball just before the runner touched first base. Seifrit threw the 5th and 6th innings and gave-up three hits while striking out one batter.
Canada scored and important insurance run in the bottom of the 6th when Atkinson laced an opposite field single to right field that scored Hendriks.
“I was probably one of the happiest guys on the bench when we scored that second run,” said Johnson of the insurance marker that put the JNT up by two.
Michael Foster (Pickering, ON) continued the solid pitching as he held the Heroes to two hits and fanned one in the 7th and 8th innings.
“We went after hitters today and made good quality pitches,” explained Johnson of the job his pitchers did on the afternoon. “They pitched out of a lot of trouble and really bore-down when we needed them to.”
The win was a big one for the JNT as they played their most complete game of Spring Training to this point. Offensively, the team had nine hits with Atkinson and Bryan Saucedo (Toronto, ON) each collecting two.
“I think Greg (Hamilton) got his message across yesterday, basically saying come prepared to play every day. Today we did that.”
Notes: Next up for the JNT is a date with St. Petersburg Junior College on March 1 at Al Lang Stadium with the first pitch at 7pm ET…Skylar Janisse (Maidstone, ON) is scheduled to start…Former JNT pitcher Brian Bardis (St.Constant, QC) is a freshman with St. Petersburg JC… Fans can watch the game LIVE by visiting: http://www.stpeteinternationalbaseball.com/live.htm ...Fans can get also get live updates by following Baseball Canada on twitter (www.twitter.com/baseballcanada )...Fans in the St. Petersburg area can purchase tickets by visiting: http://www.stpeteinternationalbaseball.com/tickets.htm , including the March 4th game against the Toronto Blue Jays.