THUNDER BAY – The Junior National Team scored early and often and allowed only two Chinese Taipei runners to reach third base as Canada would go on and sweep the Thunder Bay portion of the pre-world Canadian tour with a 8-0 win over Taipei.
Luke Willson (Lasalle, ON) led the way offensively for the Canadians, going 3-for-5 with four RBI and a run scored.
“I felt good all day today,” says Willson. “I’ve been listening to the coaches. They’ve been helping me out a lot and I’m just trying to be smart about it.”
A performance like that from Willson is a welcome sight for the Canadian coaching staff as they have slotted him in the cleanup spot in the batting order behind Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) so far this trip. Willson is up to the challenge.
“I really like being behind a guy like Brett because he almost always on (base). When Lawrie comes up and hits a double you know you have a chance to score the guy. There’s a little bit of pressure, but you can’t think about it. You just have to be smart. I’m really enjoying it and really thankful to be in that spot.”
As for Lawrie, the 16th overall pick in this past June’s MLB draft opened the scoring in the first inning when he hit his third homer in three games to put Canada ahead 1-0.
Canada scored again in the second inning when Lionel Morrill (Edmonton, AB) went deep for the second time in two days. His solo-home run put the Juniors on top 2-0.
That was more than enough for the Canadian hurlers on this day as Evan Grills (Whitby, ON), Nick Bucci (Sarnia, ON) and Andrew Ledger (Toronto, ON) would combine to shut down the Taiwanese offence, allowing a combined five hits and two walks in the game.
Grills started on the mound for the Juniors and was dominant, allowing only two hits and one walk with three strikeouts over three innings of work.
Then it was Bucci’s turn to take over as he allowed only one hit and one free pass while striking out four in his three innings on the mound.
Ledger closed things out for Canada, pitching three innings of solid baseball, allowing two hits with one strikeout. Seven of his nine outs were ground outs, including the final out of the game to seal it for Canada.
“It’s nice to sweep here to get momentum going, but it’s about finding the right pieces and as part of this we’re playing well, which is good,” says JNT Manager Greg Hamilton.
The Junior National Team makes its way to Brandon, Manitoba tomorrow where they will once again take on Chinese Taipei as part of their Canadian tour prior to the World Junior Baseball Championship in Edmonton starting on July 25. Game time in Brandon on Thursday is 7:00 pm.