WEST PALM BEACH, Florida – The Houston Astros prospects struck for three runs in the bottom of the eighth and held on to defeat the Junior National Team, 4-1, as the extended spring training camp continued at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
The juniors opened the scoring in the top of the first and appeared to be heading towards the finish line before the Astros strung together three hits in the eighth, including a decisive two-run triple.
The loss overshadowed a pair of impressive pitching performances from starter Eric Cerantola (Oakville, ON) and reliever Ben Abram (Georgetown, ON) who dominated for six innings allowing just two hits, no walks and combining to strikeout six.
-Denzel Clarke (Pickering, ON) kept his hot bat going as he led off the game with a single to right and TJ Schofield-Sam (Brampton, ON) followed with a base hit. After Cesar Valero (Calgary, AB) walked, an error brought in Clarke to put the juniors out to a quick, 1-0, lead.
-After a scoreless seventh, Connor Sparks (Saskatoon, SK) got into trouble early in the eighth after allowing back-to-back singles to start the frame, a one out triple to centre plated both runners to give the Astros the lead. An RBI groundout gave them a 3-1 lead.
-With both squads agreeing to play the bottom of the ninth, the Astros added a run on a two-out RBI single.
-Cerantola was a groundball machine registering eight of his nine outs via the groundout. His only base runner came on a one out error in the second and he managed a strikeout in the third to cap a three-inning outing where he threw just 39 pitches.
-Reliever Ben Abram one-upped Cerantola in the pitches thrown department as it took just 36 to get through his three-inning stint on the mound. He worked around a pair of singles in the fourth retiring the side on three strikeouts, and proceeded to work perfect frames in the fifth and sixth.
The Junior National Team will be back at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches tomorrow and face a prospects squad from the Washington Nationals organization at 10AM ET...RHP Theo Millas (Burnaby, BC) is scheduled to start on the mound.
(Photo: Amanda Fewer)