BOCA CHICA, DR – The Junior National Team ended their whirlwind tour of the Dominican Republic with a 11-2 beating at the hands of the New York Yankees, then quickly recovered to earn a 3-3 tie with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
In game one against the Yankees, the JNT could not capitalize on their scoring opportunities early in the game and then the Yankees were able to break it open late.
Evan Grills (Whitby, ON) got the start on the mound for Canada and put together a strong outing allowing only a hit and a walk over three innings of work, collecting three strikeouts along the way.
That was one of the few bright spots for the JNT in this game. The offence could not cash in on their opportunities, including stranding Darren Kolk (Duncan, BC) on third after he hit a one-out double in the fourth inning. That theme repeated itself in the fifth when Wes Darvill (Langley, BC) hit a leadoff triple, but was left standing at third after the Yankees were able to strikeout the next three Canadian hitters.
The Yankees opened the scoring in the bottom of the fourth when a walk with the bases loaded drove in the first run of the game. A fielder’s choice brought in the second Yankee run in the fifth and the New York affiliate enjoyed a 2-0 lead.
After that, the flood gates opened. The Yankees scored three runs in the sixth, four runs in the seventh and two more runs in the eighth to take a commanding 11-0 lead.
The Canadians were able to score two runs in the top of the ninth on a RBI single from Jimmy Ralph (Raymond, AB) and Alexandre Béland (Trois-Rivières, QC) scored on an error after reaching on a double, but that’s all the JNT would get.
Game two against the Diamondbacks was a different story as the Diamondbacks took an early lead, but the Canadians were able to come back and tie it late.
Joel Pierce (Windsor, ON) got the start in this game and was solid thru the first two innings, allowing a hit and walk, but left both those runners stranded.
Then the Diamondbacks caught some breaks in the third inning. Four errors by the Canadian defence in the frame led to three unearned runs against Pierce as the Dbacks jumped to a 3-0 lead.
Steve McKinnon (Duncan, BC) came in relief of Pierce in the fourth and was virtually untouchable. He allowed only two hits over four innings and struck out six Diamondbacks hitters.
McKinnon’s performance allowed the JNT offence to come back into this game, starting in the fifth inning when the Canadians reduced the lead to one when Rowan Wick (North Vancouver, BC) drew a bases loaded walk and Jeff Hunt (Cambridge, ON) came in to score on a wild pitch to make 3-2.
The Canadians completed the comeback in the eighth with a bit of luck of their own. Wes Darvill reached on an error, moved to second when Larry Balkwill (Chatham, ON) was hit by a pitch and a pair of wild pitches allowed Darvill to score the tying run.
The Junior National Team will reunite for the Final Summer Camp from June 22 - July 9 when they make their way to Cary and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina and then down to Cuba for a pair of exhibition series. First a five game series against the USA College National Team, followed by a six game set with the Cuban Junior National Team.