GOLD COAST, Australia – The day did not start very well for the Junior National Baseball Team as they dropped a 9-6 decision to Riseisha College in the afternoon before defeating Australia, 4-3, Wednesday evening in what was perhaps their finest effort thus far of the pre-worlds selection camp exhibition series.
The Juniors built a four-run lead through six innings and received a pair of fine pitching performances from starter JP Stevenson (Hunter River, PE) and Connor Noble (Vancouver, BC) in the win over Australia.
Chris Thibideau (Dartmouth, NS) kept his hot bat going belting an opposite field double to right and scoring from second on Jake Lumley’s (Windsor, ON) single to centre in the bottom of the first.
After Lumley swiped second, Josh Naylor (Mississauga, ON) lined a single up the middle to score him and the Juniors were out to a quick 2-0 lead.
In the third, Lachlan Fontaine (North Vancouver, BC) belted a double that rolled to the wall in right and after a passed ball, he scored when Toby Handley (Whitby, ON) beat out a two-out, infield single to short.
Stevenson allowed a lead-off double in the top of the first, but came back to retire the next nine batters including three via strikeout.
Noble picked up where Stevenson left off allowing only one hit and one walk through three innings, while striking out five.
The Juniors made it 4-0 when Fontaine walked and advanced to second, third and home on wild-pitches in the sixth before the Aussies got on the board with a pair of runs in the seventh.
With reliever Nathan Borges (Brooklin, ON) on the mound, a two-out walk came around to score on a wild-pitch and after another walk, a triple plated the second run of the inning.
A lead-off double in the eighth followed by an RBI single made things interesting, but Borges was able to get a double-play and strikeout to get out of the inning. The game was made official after the eighth as the ninth was used to practice the International Baseball Federation’s extra-inning rule.
The Juniors ended with nine hits on the evening with Fontaine collecting three including a double, while Lumley had two singles.
Riseisha College holds off late Canada rally
Riseisha College used a four-run fifth inning to break a 3-3 tie and held off a late rally to defeat the Canadian juniors, 9-6.
The four-run inning saw Riseisha benefit from three walks, two errors and a base-hit to take a 7-3 lead.
Down 9-3 in the ninth, the Junior’s rallied with three runs and threatened with two runners on before Gareth Morgan (Toronto) flew-out to end the game.
Canada opened the scoring in the top of the first as Handley led off with a four-pitch walk and after stealing second and moving to third on a groundout, scored when Tyler O’Neill (Maple Ridge, BC) grounded out to third base.
They added to their lead when Fontaine walked and Malik Collymore (Mississauga, ON) singled before free passes were issued to Morgan Loftstrom (Kelowna, BC) and Gareth Morgan to bring in the second run of the inning which ended the Riseisha starter’s day.
Riseisha answered back in the home half of the second when a lead-off double came around to count on a single to right field off of JNT starter Colton Wood (Victoria, BC).
In the top of the third, Lumley (Windsor, ON) led-off with a beautiful bunt-single down the third base line and O’Neill picked up his second RBI of the day when he smacked an opposite-field double off the wall in right-centre.
Blake Weston (Oakville, ON) took over for Wood in the fourth and got into trouble early walking two batters and giving up two singles which allowed Riseisha to tie the score.
Things didn’t get much better for Weston in the fifth as two walks and an error loaded the bases before he walked in the go ahead run. He was removed in favour of Luke Manuel (Surrey, BC) who didn’t get much help from his defence early on as an error at third base brought in two more runs to make the score 6-3.
Later in the frame, a single up the middle brought in the fourth run of the inning before Manuel got out of it on a groundout to second.
After Riseisha added two runs in the seventh, the juniors rallied in the ninth with three runs and had the tying run at the plate, but came up short.
Mitch Bigras (Sarnia, ON) and Handley had back-to-back singles and after a fielder’s choice, Bigras later scored on a fielding error.
Fontaine singled home Lumley and Chris Thibideau’s (Dartmouth, NS) sac-fly brought in the innings third run.
O’Neill led the offence with a 2-for-5 day at the plate with a double and three RBI, while Fontaine had two singles and drove-in one.
Handley, Lumley and Loftstrom each picked-up two singles as part of 13 hits on the afternoon for the Canucks.
Reliever Sean Ratcliffe (Ajax, ON) struck out three batters in the bottom of the eighth after the first batter of the inning reached on an error.