Courtesy of Adam Morrissette, Baseball Canada (www.baseball.ca)
Seoul, Korea – In the end it just wasn’t meant to be for the Canadian Junior National Team (JNT) as they dropped a 6-2 decision to the United States in the gold medal game at the IBAF 18U World Championships.
As a result, Canada will take home the silver medal which is the best finish by a Canadian team at the event since 1991 when Canada took home gold in Brandon, Man.
“It’s a tremendous accomplishment for 20 players, I’m really proud of them,” said manager Greg Hamilton of the silver medal. “We didn’t get the easy route to the final and to get to the final and finish second is a testament to some very talented and committed players.”
Canada opened the scoring in the top of the second when Gareth Morgan (Toronto, Ont.) hit an RBI ground out to score Jesse Hodges (Victoria, B.C.) from third base.
The U.S. responded in the home half of the second when starter Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) gave up a single and then a double that saw interference called on Hodges at third base which led to the game being tied.
Quantrill allowed a walk and a single to start the third before a sacrifice bunt was laid down to move the runners. After a single scored two runs, Travis Seabrooke (Peterborough, Ont.) came into replace Quantrill on the mound.
After getting a ground ball out, Seabrooke gave up an RBI single and the U.S. was out to a 4-1 lead.
Tempers flared in the bottom of the fourth when the U.S.’s William Abreu was ejected by the home plate umpire for running catcher Chris Shaw (Winnipeg, Man.) on a play at home. Shaw held on to the ball for the out and stayed in the game.
Abreu was immediately ejected after the collision and U.S. Manager Scott Brosius argued the call which saw IBAF technical officials come on to the field which caused a lengthy delay.
The delay seemed to provide a spark for Canada as they scored a run off a Shaw RBI ground out in the fifth to cut the deficit to two.
Seabrooke gave up a single to start the top of the fifth and Brock Dykxhoorn (Goderich, Ont.) came out of the bullpen and got a ground out and double play to end the inning.
Canada missed an opportunity to score in the sixth as they left the bases loaded with two out.
The U.S. added two more runs in the seventh off of pitcher Ryan Kellogg (Whitby, Ont.), with both coming off what was called an RBI double as two runs scored when a line drive deflected off Kellogg and rolled into left field.
Canada made three errors in the game and managed only four hits against three different U.S. pitchers.
“Full marks to them – they managed ten hits, didn’t make any costly errors and played a clean ballgame,” said Hamilton. “No shame for our guys – they battled and competed.
“It was 4-2 late but it turned out to be their night.”
For Hamilton, who also doubles as Baseball Canada’s director of national teams, the silver medal is the third that he has picked up in less than eleven months (Pan Am Games-Gold; COPABE 18U Qualifier-Silver). This signifies a very successful time in the history of Baseball Canada’s national teams.
“I think it shows that we can play at the highest levels,” said Hamilton. “It’s a motivating factor and motivating force for the game in Canada. To take a group of high school players and finish second in the world, relative to the best players on the globe is tremendous.”
The silver medal also signifies the end of this two-year cycle for the JNT which concluded with the IBAF 18U World Championship. In October, the JNT program will see a handful of players from this club participate in the annual Fall Instructional League Camp, while the majority of players will be brand new to the program.
“Our goal is to win one of these,” explained Hamilton. “Most importantly, our goal is to do what we did over the past two years which is to develop a group of players that’s capable of competing physically against the best in the world.”
Players, coaches and staff will return to their respective destinations on Sunday.