DURHAM, North Carolina – Anything that could go wrong for the Junior National Team did in this game as, in the words of JNT Manager Greg Hamilton,it was a complete lack of effort by the Canadians in a 20-3 beating at the hands of the USA Collegiate National Team.
“We can’t play the way that we played tonight and expect to be successful,” says Hamilton in a matter of fact tone.“It’s not a function of the score, again it’s a tall order with this club, but we didn’t play the game the way it should be played.We were complacent and we made errors when we shouldn’t have made errors.”
It began early for the JNT as the Americans got on the board in the top of the first inning when two straight singles by Tyler Holt and Rick Hague and fielder’s choice by Christian Colon brought in the first run against Canadian starter Jerome Werniuk (Toronto, ON).Colon would later score on an RBI single from Michael Choice to make it 2-0 USA.
The Canadians responded in the bottom half of the inning with a pair of runs of their own.Jeff Hunt (Cambridge, ON) hit a sacrifice fly that brought in Darren Kolk (Duncan, BC) and Adam Nelubowich (Stoney Plain, AB) drew a bases loaded walk to bring in the second run to tie the game 2-2.
That would be the only highlight for the Canadians in what would become a tough game to watch.
The Americans got those two runs back in the second when Colon hit a two-run home run over the Blue Monster in left field at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park to put his team once again ahead by two.
Another two runs came in to score for the Americans in the third on a pair of sacrifice flies from Choice and Yasmani Grandal, 6-2 USA.
Deuces were wild again for Team USA in the fifth as Andy Wilkins reached on an error, got to third on a second error and scored on a Matt Newman ground out, all against Brian Smith (Pickering, ON) who had come in relief of Werniuk.Holt produced the second run of the frame when he brought in Choice from second on an RBI single, 8-2 USA.
Then the flood gates started to open in the sixth as the Americans brought across five runs on three hits, highlighted by a two-run double from Rob Segedin to make it 13-2.
Jonathan Paquet (Ancienne Lorette, QC) came in to get the last two outs in the sixth, but he could not stop the bleeding either as the Americans would score another four runs in the seventh with five singles making the score now 17-2 USA.
The JNT were able to scratch in a run in the bottom of the eighth when Rowan Wick (North Vancouver, BC) scored on a Kellin Deglan (Langley, BC) ground out to make it 17-3.
The final blow from the Americans came in the top of the ninth when they added three more runs to make it an even 20 on the night.All told, Team USA scored 20 runs on 19 hits, eight walks and three errors.
The Canadians on the other hand were unable to generate anything offensively, and the few times they did get runners on, mistakes would cost them, such being picked off bases which happened three times at first base for the JNT including in the second inning when American starter Cody Wheeler picked off two consecutive runners.
“Tonight was simply unacceptable,” says Hamilton, “but game like this can happen at the highest levels of the game and we’re going to take this as a learning experience.Again, we can’t play the way we played.We got to execute routine plays consistently, you’ve got to be prepared to play and you’ve got to compete.”
The Junior National Team will try to bounce back in the finale of this exhibition series against the USA Collegiate National Team on Monday, June 29 at 7:30 PM ET at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary.
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