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JNT drops series finale against USA

CARY, North Carolina – The offence showed signs of its potential and the pitchers were on the mark for the Junior National Team, but four errors in the game would come back to haunt them and they dropped the series finale against the USA Collegiate National Team by a score of 9-3.

Prior to the game, there was a dedication to the former Town Manager of Cary Bill Coleman as the main field at the USA Baseball National Training Complex was renamed Coleman Field.

For the game itself, the Americans put the first runs on the board in the in the second inning.  Blake Forsythe led off with a double against Canadian starter Steve McKinnon (Duncan, BC), and came in to score on a Ryan Johnson (Winnipeg, MB) error.  Kolten Wong, who reached on the error, came around to score on a fielder’s choice on Bryce Brentz, making it 2-0 for the United States.

The United States doubled their lead in the third.  First Christian Colon, who was hit by a pitch, came in to score on the RBI single from Wong.  After Wong stole second, Michael Choice doubled to bring Wong around and make it 4-0.

The Canadians would cut the lead in half in the fourth on a two-run home run from Kellin Deglan (Langley, BC) to make it 4-2.  Darren Kolk (Duncan, BC) led off the inning with a single and came in to score on the homer to right.

“I got a fastball middle in, got my arms extended and got all of it,” says Deglan of his homerun.  “I was able to get some good wood on it, put some back spin on it and it went over.”

The Americans got one back in the bottom of the fourth when Rick Hague singled in Brad Miller, who had walked to bring the lead up to three.

McKinnon got into a little trouble in the fifth when an error, a fielder’s choice started the inning.  Choice hit a two-RBI single and Brentz had an RBI single of his own to make it 8-2 and runners on first and second with nobody out.  But McKinnon rebounded by striking out Miller and getting both Casey McGrew and Hague to fly out to end the inning.

The final run for the U.S. came in the sixth Colon hit a leadoff single, stole second, reached third on an error by shortstop Wes Darvill (Langley, BC) on a pickoff attempt and was cashed in on a sacrifice fly from Wong to make it 9-2.

Adam Nelubowich (Stoney Plain, AB) drove in the third Canadian run in the eighth inning on a double in the right-centre field gap, bringing in Brandon Dailey (Brantford, ON), who had singled to lead off the frame, to make it 9-3.  Kevin Biro (Bowser, BC), who drew a walk, also tried to score on the play from first, but was thrown out at the plate. 

On the pitching side for the Canadians, McKinnon lasted 5-1/3 innings, allowing nine runs, five earned, on nine hits, two walks and three strikeouts.

Jeff Gibbs (Toronto, ON) and Evan Rutckyj (Windsor, ON) came in relief and shut the door the rest of the way.  Gibbs went 2-1/3 innings, allowing only a walk with one strikeout.  Rutckyj pitched 1/3 of an inning, he walked the first batter he faced but got the final out on a fielder’s choice.

“It was nice to see,” says JNT Manager Greg Hamilton of his two relievers tonight.  “I wanted to get Rutckyj out there again after the first time and he felt more comfortable out there, and Gibby did a really good job.”

“(McKinnon) is a special arm,” adds Hamilton.  “He probably only gives up a couple of runs if gets a little help behind him.  We extended some innings and they got a couple extra hits, but they didn’t hit him really hard.”

The Junior National Team is now off to Toronto for the Canada Day holiday, where they will have a workout at the Rogers Centre on Canada Day before making their way to Cuba on July 2nd

“We’re trying to get better,” says Hamilton of his game plan moving into the next phase of the summer camp.  “We’re just looking at the big picture and trying to see where we’re going to be down the road.”

The Junior National Team will arrive in Toronto on Tuesday, June 30 and will be there until July 2 when the second portion of the Final Summer Camp begins with a six game exhibition series with the Cuban Junior National Team in Cuba.