Thursday, March 8, 2012
St.Petersburg, FL-The Baltimore Orioles scored five runs in the first inning and held on to defeat the Junior National Team 6-2 at historic Al Lang Field.
The loss held significant meaning for the Juniors as they showed improvement over their first two games of the St. Petersburg International Baseball Series against minor league prospects from the Orioles.
"It all started on the mound," said Head Coach Greg Hamilton. "We threw strikes and didn't walk the ballpark-when you do that you get rewarded."
Fernando Fernandez (Montréal, QC) started for the Juniors, his first in a Canadian uniform, and was touched up for five runs in the first (three earned) off four hits, two walks and an error.
He settled down in the second allowing only one runner via a walk, while fanning one batter.
The Juniors took their lumps against some tough Orioles pitching as they didn't record their first hit until Daniel Pinero (Toronto, ON) singled to right field in the sixth.
Blake Weston (Oakville, ON) took over for Fernandez in the third inning and allowed a one-out triple to the second batter he faced that eventually came around to score two batters later on a RBI single.
Weston got into trouble in the fourth by loading the bases, but remained composed and managed to get out of the jam with a ground ball out.
Also, making his debut in a National Team uniform was Travis Seabrooke (Peterborough, ON) who threw two scoreless innings and struck out three batters to keep the Orioles off the scoreboard.
Fernandez, Weston and Seabrooke were impressive on the mound as they faced pro competition for the first time.
"They're all guys with upside and if they continue to grow and mature they'll have bright futures," said Hamilton. "Tonight was a good night for them. They were able to compose themselves, throw strikes and not let the game get away."
The Juniors broke the shutout bid in the eighth when veteran Brett Siddall (Windsor, ON) ripped a double to centerfield that scored Kyle Hann (Oakville, ON) and Nathan DeSouza (Milton, ON). Hann had walked to get on base while DeSouza hit a double that moved both players into scoring position.
Siddall was left stranded at second base and the Orioles sealed the victory with a perfect ninth inning.
"It's all about progression in my mind," explained Hamilton after the game. "This is the front end of a long process and we're trying to get players to understand what they need to do as individuals and within the context of a team to get better."
"Today we played a pretty good ballclub and played a good game," he continued. "Hopefully tomorrow we can be consistent against a team that we should be able to play well against."
Notes: The Juniors will meet St. Petersburg College for the second time in three days and Steven Dressler (Burlington, ON) is expected to start ...Game time is 7:05pm ET from Al Lang Field.Baltimore Orioles GM and former Montréal Expos GM Dan Duquette was in attendance to watch some of his minor league prospects play Team Canada.The Juniors are participating in the St. Petersburg International Baseball Series from March 6th-13th and the complete schedule can be found HERE
.This series is an important step in the process as the Juniors prepare for the IBAF 18U World Championship August 30th-September 8th in Seoul, South Korea.For more information on Baseball Canada's Junior National Team Program, please click HERE