Saint Paul MN --- July 18, 2010 --- After losing to Team USA two nights earlier, the JNT were able to get some solid pitching and timely hitting to defeat the Americans 4-3. This brought to a close the Saint Paul portion of the pre-world's tour as the JNT creep closer to the start of the World Junior Baseball Championships in Thunder Bay beginning July 23rd.
"I thought we did what we had to do," noted JNT Head Coach, Greg Hamilton (Ottawa, ON). "I thought we did well in all three elements of the game."
One element of the game that the JNT certainly impressed in was pitching. Jonathan Paquet (Ancienne Lorette, QC) started for the JNT and was effective through 5 innings of work. Perhaps what was most notable about Paquet's outing was that he only allowed 2 walks in the game after struggling in that area in his previous start.
In the 2nd inning a routine fly ball was dropped by Rowan Wick (North Vancouver, BC) in right field, the runner later came around to score after stealing second and scoring on a base hit.
Team USA built a 3-0 lead in the 4th inning thanks to a walk given up by Paquet, where the runner stole second, advanced to third on a double and later scored on a wild pitch. The player who hit the double was able to take third on the wild pitch and scored on a single.
Paquet's outing saw him give up 3 runs (2 earned), 6 hits and strikeout 2 batters.
The JNT broke the goose egg in the 5th inning when Team USA starter A.J. Vanegas got into trouble by walking four batters. Philip Diedrick (Ajax, ON) led the inning off with a walk and proceeded to 3rd base after an error and another Vanegas base-on-balls. Diedrick scored when Vanegas issued his third free pass of the inning to Jordan Boston (Brampton, ON). The JNT scored another run before the frame ended to trail by one.
Nicholas Pivetta (Victoria, BC) came on in relief of Paquet in the 6th inning and had a three-up, three-down inning with all of the batters retired by ground-outs.
In the bottom half of the 6th inning the JNT manufactured the tying and go-ahead runs giving them their first lead of the ball game. Justin Atkinson (Surrey, BC) delivered a 2-out, bases loaded single that scored Brandon Dailey (Brantford, ON) and Diedrick. Atkinson's hit took a generous bounce over the shortstop's head and rolled into left field bringing home the runs.
The game was then put into the hands of JNT veteran Evan Grills (Whitby, ON) who made quick work of Team USA allowing only one hit and striking out three batters. Grills had joined the JNT the previous day from the Houston Astros training facility in Kissimmee, Florida and was anxious to get on the mound.
"I was really excited," said the tall left-hander. "I haven't pitched in an atmosphere like that in over a year."
Grills worked quickly and kept the American hitter's off-balance by displaying command of three pitches, he also forced 6 ground ball out's.
The success of the JNT pitcher's on the day was not lost on Coach Hamilton, who said his pitchers were successful because they threw strikes.
"We were in strike one most of the day instead of playing catch-up," explained Hamilton. "We've got a lot of guy's with great arms and if they can establish (themselves), we give ourselves a chance."
Notes: The JNT will travel to St. Cloud, MN on July 19th and face Taiwan at Faber Field with the first pitch coming at 4:30pm CT. ...The JNT received a huge boost prior to the USA game with catcher Kellin Deglan (Langley, BC) arriving from Arizona where he was a member of the Texas Rangers Arizona League team. Deglan caught the last 4 innings of the game and had two at-bats, popping-out both times.
The 2010 IBAF World Junior (18U) Baseball Championship will host national teams from Australia, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Korea, Netherlands, Panama, Venezuela and the United States. Teams will begin qualifying games on July 23rd and the tournament will culminate in the Gold Medal game on August 1st at the Port Arthur Stadium in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. Visit the website at www.worldbaseball2010.com.. For tickets, please call Toll Free 1-877-422-3201.