ORLANDO – The Junior National Team came up with a strong showing in their final game of Spring Training Camp in Disney, but a strong showing was not enough to hold off the Atlanta Braves who scored two runs in the seventh inning and held on for the 2-1 win.
The Canadian pitchers were excellent in this contest, starting with Ethan Stewart (Campbell River, BC) who threw two scoreless innings in his start for the Juniors. He only allowed one hit and one walk and struck out one.
Joel Pierce (Windsor, ON) followed up with two scoreless innings of his own, allowing two hits and a pair of walks while striking out one Braves hitter.
The game remained scoreless until the fifth inning when Jeff Hunt (Cambridge ON) hit a one out single, moved to second on an error and then scored on the RBI double from Alexandre Béland (Trois-Rivières, QC) to put Canada ahead 1-0.
Then Brian Bardis (St. Constant, QC) kept the momentum going on the mound, pitching two no-hit innings. His only blemish was giving up a walk. He also collected three strikeouts in his outing.
But then the Braves got the offence going in the seventh inning as back to back doubles with one out against Brian Smith (Pickering, ON) tied the game 1-1. With two outs and a runner on third, a wild pitch allowed the second run to score as the Braves took the 2-1 lead.
Smith gave up two runs, one of which was earned, on three hits with two strikeouts in two innings of work.
Johnathan Solazzo (Mississauga, ON) closed things out on the mound for the Canadians with a one-two-three ninth inning, striking out one.
The Canadians were able to put the tying run on in the eighth inning when Larry Balkwill (Chatham, ON) was hit by a pitch, but the Braves got the Canadians in two ground outs and a strikeout to end the threat.
The Canadians put the tying run on again in the ninth inning when Tanner Nivins (Kitchener, ON), who was 2-for-3 with a double in this game, led off with a base-hit, but the Juniors could not cash him in as the Braves held on for the win.
The next time the Junior National Team will get together will be for the Dominican Summer League Camp which will take place from May 20th-29th.