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USA pound out a victory over JNT

DURHAM, North Carolina – The Junior National Team held their own in the first half of the game, but some costly errors gave the USA Collegiate National Team extra outs and they took advantage on route to an 8-1 win in the second game of this five game exhibition series.

The Americans pounded out 19 hits in this game, but for JNT Manager Greg Hamilton that was a positive sign for his pitching staff.

“Our guys pounded the strike zone and were throwing for contact,” says Hamilton.  “We extended a few innings for them, so you can add five or six hits to that, but it wasn’t like they were hitting them all into the seats and wearing us out.”

For the second game in a row, Team USA opened the scoring in the first inning.  Tyler Holt hit a leadoff double and then stole third.   Rick Hague followed with an RBI single to the Americans on the board.

Canadian starter Steven Inch (Edmonton, AB) was then able to get out of trouble in the second and third innings.  The Americans had the bases loaded with one out in the second, but Inch was able to strikeout Holt and then got Hague to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.

It was a similar situation in the third when Andy Wilkins hit a one out triple to be 90 feet away for the second run.  After Inch struck out Yasmani Grandal, he issued a walk to Kolten Wong to put runners on the corners.  Wong got into scoring position after stealing second, but got Michael Choice to ground out to escape the inning.

But after a quick fourth inning, Team USA got their second run off Inch in the fifth inning.  Hague led off with a double and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt from Christian Colon.  Inch then uncorked a wild pitch which allowed Hague to score and give the Americans a 2-0 lead.  After a double by Wilkins and a sacrifice fly by Grundal, that was the end of the night for Inch who went 4-2/3, allowing two runs on eight hits with one walk and three strikeouts.

“It was great to face such good international competition in this type of atmosphere,” says Inch of the over 5,600 fans that attended the game.  “I was happy with my performance.  I wanted to go out there and throw strikes and keep the ball low and for the most part I was able to do that.”

Ethan Stewart (Campbell River, BC) took over for Inch to end the fifth and ran into some bad luck in the sixth as a pair of errors led to three unearned runs and a 5-0 USA lead. 

Brad Miller flied out for the second out of the inning and the Canadians tried to double up Rob Segedin who was on first but was passed second base on the play.  But a fielding error by Jeff Hunt (Cambridge, ON) allowed Segedin to return safely and advance to second.  Then a throwing error by Alex Calbick (Burnaby, BC) allowed Holt to reach and Segedin to move up to third, Hague doubled in both runners to put his team ahead by four.  Hague would later score on a Colon single to make it 5-0.

The Americans added another run in the eighth to make it 6-0 before the Canadian offence started to come to life.  The JNT got their only run of the game in the bottom of the eighth when Andrew Ruck (Whitby, ON), who led off the inning with a walk, came in to score on an error to make it 6-1.

That would be all the Canadian offence would score as they collected five hits in the game, led by Kellin Deglan (Langley, BC) who went 2-for-4.  Ryan Clarke (Mississauga, ON), Wes Darvill (Langley, BC) and Ryan Johnson (Winnipeg, MB) collected one hit each for Canada.

Hague was the offensive leader for Team USA, which added two more runs in the top of the ninth to complete the scoring.  Hague went 3-for-6 with a pair of doubles, two runs scored and three RBI.

“Our at-bats were better today,” says Hamilton of his team’s offensive production.  “We’re hanging in there a lot more and we’re getting more comfortable with what we’re seeing, and we’re seeing some Major League type stuff.”

The Junior National Team and the USA Collegiate National Team will face off for game three of this series on Saturday, June 27 at 7:05 PM ET at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.  Paul Barton (Qualicum Beach, BC) is scheduled to start on the mound for Canada.

Note: The link to follow the Canada – USA games live noted yesterday was incorrect.  The proper link is  Baseball Canada apologises for the inconvenience.