Cartagena, Colombia-In front of a raucous, pro-Colombian crowd, the Junior National Team played some old-fashion Canadian baseball and earned a 4-3 win against host Colombia. The win clinches a berth in next year’s IBAF World Junior Baseball Championship slated for Seoul, South Korea and also sets-up a first-place showdown with undefeated USA tomorrow (the game will begin 30 minutes after the completion of the 10am ET game).
“It’s huge for the (Junior National Team) program,” said Head Coach and Director of National Teams, Greg Hamilton. “A lot of time and effort is put into this program and a lot of people support it, so we’re very fortunate.”
“Playing in a World Championship is a special opportunity for Canadian kids.”
Colombia opened the scoring in the top of the first when a lead-off bunt single advanced to second base on a ground out and scored on an RBI single.
Starter Ryan Kellogg (Whitby, ON) settled in during the second inning and fanned two in a perfect inning of work.
With runners on second and third and two out in the bottom of the second, Kyle Hann (Oakville, ON) stepped to the plate and came up clutch with a single to centerfield. Justin Marra (Toronto, ON) easily scored from third and Dustin Houle (Penticton, BC) got the wave home from Third Base Coach Corey Eckstein.
“I was running as hard as I could and saw that Corey was waiving me home,” explained Houle. “I knew it was going to be a close play and about half-way down I decided that I was going to ‘truck’ the catcher at home.”
Houle collided with the Colombian catcher with a full head of steam and scored the go ahead run. The catcher never had control of the ball and was shaken up for quite some time after the play.”
“It felt unbelievable to score that run for your country in a key time in a big game.”
The Juniors added to the lead in the third inning and caught a break when Brendan Hendriks (Cochrane, AB) scored from second base on a single from Justin Marra (Toronto, ON). With Hendriks rounding third the throw from the outfield was off-line and deflected off the third base umpire allowing Hendriks to trot home.
Colombia put runners on the corners with only one out in the fourth only to see Kellogg record a strikeout as the runner left for second base. Kyle Hann then cut-off the throw in front of second base and fired a strike to Marra at home who blocked the plate and tagged the runner trying to steal home.
After Canada went down in the home half of the fourth, Colombia cut the lead to one run when Kellogg unleashed a wild-pitch with a runner on third base.
Kellogg lasted until the seventh when Skylar Janisse (Maidstone, ON) came in and recorded the final out of the inning with a pop-out to Justin Marra.
With the score 3-2 in the seventh, Hann led-off with a single and advanced to second base on a sac-bunt from Jacob Robson (Windsor, ON). Brett Siddall (Windsor, ON) followed with a walk and after Daniel Pinero (Toronto, ON) struck out, both runners advanced when the ball got by the catcher with Brendan Hendriks batting.
Hendriks then hit a slower roller that the first baseman fielded and beat the pitcher to the bag allowing Hann to score.
With two out in the eighth, Janisse hit a batter and allowed a single which brought an end to his outing. Jake Hansen (Fort Macleod, AB) came on and gave up an RBI single before earning a big strikeout to end the inning.
Hansen came back out for the ninth and was lights out by fanning the final two batters to end the game.
“I’m really proud of our guys,” said Hamilton. “There were a lot of people in the stands and it really was a tight ballgame.”
“We got pitches when we needed them and timely hits today, he added, and that’s how you win 4-3 ball games.”
It will be a stiff challenge tomorrow against an unbeaten US squad looking to win their second Americas World Junior Qualification Tournament in a row.
“We have to go out and compete hard tomorrow,” said Hamilton. “We know we can play with them, we just have to play a sound game.”
Notes: Click on the link below for an up-to-date schedule, scores and standings… Tomorrow’s game will be streamed LIVE on the internet: http://www.tv.une.net.co/zonastream/ , click on ‘Beisbol 2011’ …As always, for the latest information and LIVE in-game updates, be sure to follow Baseball Canada on Twitter: www.twitter.com/baseballcanada.
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