The Baltimore Orioles scored five runs in the first inning and held on to defeat Canada’s Junior National Team 6-2 at historic Al Lang Field on Thursday (March 8).
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.”
Starter Fernando Fernandez (Montréal) made his debut in a Canadian uniform, and was touched up for five runs in the first inning (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 and didn’t get their first hit until Daniel Pinero (Toronto) singled to right field in the sixth.
Blake Weston (Oakville) took over for Fernandez in the third inning and allowed a one-out triple to the second batter he faced. An RBI-single two batters later plated the runner.
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) 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) ripped a double to centerfield that scored Kyle Hann (Oakville) and Nathan DeSouza (Milton). Hann had walked to get on base while DeSouza’s double moved both players into scoring position.
Siddall was left stranded at second 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 we can be consistent…”