DUNEDIN, Florida - Pitching ruled on a cool Florida afternoon with wind gusts as high as 46 km/h as the Junior National Team scored a run in the eighth to escape with a 1-1 tie against a prospects squad from the Toronto Blue Jays organization.
Eric Cerantola (Oakville, ON), Ben Abram (Georgetown, ON) and Tate Dearing (White Rock, BC) combined to strikeout 11 Blue Jays while giving up nine hits and issuing just three walks.
Offensively, the juniors managed just two hits but scratched across a run in the eighth to earn a well-deserved tie against their professional counterparts.
Bottom 1 – A leadoff single, wild pitch and base hit put a runner on third and with two out, a base hit up the middle plated the runner to give the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead.
Top 8 – The Junior National Team finally got on the scoreboard in the eighth and it was Blake Buckle (Milton, ON) who worked a walk with the bases loaded to allow Noah Naylor (Mississauga, ON) to trot home with the tying run. Naylor had reached on a one out walk and moved to third on Denzel Clarke’s (Pickering, ON) single to right. After a fielder’s choice, Daniel Carinci (Ajax, ON) drew a walk to load the bases.
-Blue Jays reliever John Axford was at the Bobby Mattick Complex throwing in a minor league game and visited with some of the coaches afterwards. The Port Dover, Ontario played with the Junior National Team in 2001 and is currently in big league spring training with the Blue Jays.
-Junior National Team alums Owen Spiwak (2012, 2013), Jordan Romano (2010) and Tom Robson (2010, 2011) were also at the Bobby Mattick Complex.
-The Blue Jays’ roster was primarily composed of first and second year pros. Players who will likely remain in Dunedin for extended spring training.
-The juniors threatened in the first as Noah Naylor (Mississauga, ON) beat out an infield single with two out before Denzel Clarke (Pickering, ON) walked and TJ Schofield-Sam (Brampton, ON) reached on an error. LaRon Smith (Spruce Grove, AB) grounded into a force out at second to end the frame.
-Eric Cerantola worked three innings including a perfect second and got out of a base loaded jam in the third getting a double play to end the threat.
-Reliever Ben Abram recorded all six outs in the fourth and fifth via the strikeout. The big right-hander left the bases loaded in the fourth, a runner on third in the fifth and a runner on first in the sixth to go three scoreless.
-Tate Dearing took over from Abram in the seventh and retired the first seven hitters he faced before allowing a walk in the ninth. A base hit to right moved the runner to third only to see Dearing leave him stranded to end the ballgame.
-Junior National Team catcher Ryan Faragher is celebrating his 18th birthday today.
The Junior National Team will be back at the Walter Fuller Complex tomorrow for an inter-squad game beginning at 1PM ET before travelling to the Baltimore Orioles’ Minor League Complex in Sarasota to face a prospects squad from their organization on Friday (Noon ET).