ORLANDO – It was a pitcher’s duel as both teams had to chip away for everything they could get, but in the end the Houston Astros were able to do just enough to edge out the Junior National Team by a score of 3-2 at the Spring Training Camp in Disney.
Most of the runs came early in the game as the Astros would have a 3-1 lead by the fourth inning. It was the Astros who opened the scoring in the second after successfully completing the double steal with one out to take the 1-0 lead.
The Canadians responded in the bottom half of the frame as Larry Balkwill (Chatham, ON) drove a one out RBI double to score Darren Kolk (Mill Bay, BC), who was 3-for-3 in this game, to tie the game.
But the Astros would get to Canadian starter Jonathan Paquet (Ancienne Lorette, QC) in the third as they would score two runs on five hits and take the 3-1 lead.
From that point on in this game, the Canadians threw zeros across the board, starting with Paul Barton (Qualicum Beach, BC) who threw two no-hit innings in relief of Paquet, allowing only a walk with one strikeout.
Then it was Mike Ellis (Surrey, BC) who threw two innings of one-hit ball, striking out a pair of Astros hitters in the process.
Finally it was Steve McKinnon (Duncan, BC) who closed the game out for the Canadians and threw two perfect innings to give his team a chance for the win.
But the Canadians were only able to bring to within one and that came in the seventh inning when Kolk, with one of his three hits on the day, drove in Alexandre Béland (Trois-Rivières, QC) to make it 3-2.
The Juniors were able to put the tying run aboard in the bottom of the ninth when Jeff Hunt (Cambridge, ON) led off with a single, but the Astros were then able to strikeout the side to preserve the win.
Next up for the Junior National Team at the Spring Training Camp is a matchup with the Detroit Tigers on Friday, April 24th at 1 PM.