ORLANDO, FL – In what was a back and forth game, The Junior National Team made a strong comeback late in the game, only to have it spoiled by a ninth inning comeback from the Atlanta Braves’ prospects to fall short in their Spring Training finale by a score of 6-5.
The Braves would open the scoring in the first when a single, a ground out and a single against Canadian starter Nick Bucci (Sarnia, ON) put the Braves in the lead 1-0.
Atlanta would add to its lead in the second inning on a single and back-to-back doubles to score a pair. Bucci would cruise the rest of the way, allowing three runs on six hits and a walk with two strikeouts in three innings of work.
The Juniors would start their comeback in the fourth inning as Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) would hit a one out triple and would come in to score on the RBI single from Jean-Christophe Paquin (St-Augustin, QC) to make it 3-1.
The Canadians would tie it up in the fifth inning. Brett Sanders (Etobicoke, ON) would leadoff the inning with a single. Ivan Hartle (North Vancouver, BC) followed with a RBI double to score Sanders and reduce the lead to one. Hartle would move to third on a Greg Densem (Toronto, ON) fly out, which allowed him to score on an error by the Braves, tying the game at 3-3.
The Braves however would quickly respond in the bottom half of the fifth when three singles against Nick Fogarty (Thornhill, ON) would bring in a run and give Atlanta a 4-3 lead.
Fogarty would shut things down from there. The left-hander allowed only the one run on five hits and a walk while striking out four in his three inning outing.
From there, Philippe Charpentier (L’Épiphanie, QC) took over. Charpentier was solid in his two innings of work, allowing only two hits and a walk with one strikeout, giving the Juniors a chance to once again do some damage.
That opportunity came in the eighth inning when Hartle led off the inning with a single then promptly stole second. With one out, Luke Willson (Lasalle, ON) drove a double to left-centre, scoring Hartle and tying the game at 4-4.
The Canadians would grab the lead in the ninth inning as James Kottaras (Markham, ON) drew a walk to lead things off, followed by a one out single from Jeff Hunt (Cambridge, ON). With both runners on and two out, Skye Irwin (Toronto, ON) delivered with a RBI single to right to score Kottaras with the go ahead run and a 5-4 Canadian lead.
However, the excitement would be short lived as the Braves would get two runs on four hits in the bottom of the ninth to spoil the Canadian comeback.
The Junior National Team finished its Spring Training camp with a 0-7-1 record. However the record is not what’s important in Spring Training, it is the gained experience for these young men which counts the most. The next time the Juniors will reunite will be for the Dominican Summer League Camp, which takes place from May 21st to 30th.