Lawrie Wins World Triple Crown

  • August 04, 2008

EDMONTON – At the conclusion of the World Junior Championship, the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) unveiled the tournament’s award winners and All-Star team and Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) brought home a lot of hardware. Lawrie was awarded the Top Hitter Award with his .469 average for the tournament. He was also awarded the Most Home Runs Award with three and the Most RBI Award with 16. He was also named the catcher for the World All-Star team. “We played well as a team the whole tournament,” says Lawrie. “It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t achieve what we wanted to coming here, but I’m very proud of the way the team played during the tournament.” Joining Lawrie on the World All-Star team is Michael Crouse (Port Moody, BC) as an outfielder. Crouse hit .312 with two doubles, one triple and five RBI in the tournament and fielded his position exceptionally, committing no errors with 12 putouts.

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Canada Finishes Sixth at World Juniors

  • August 03, 2008

EDMONTON – In the end, the Junior National Team simply ran out of options and nothing seemed to go their way as they would fall at the hands of Chinese Taipei by a score of 11-4 in the fifth place game at the World Junior Championship. The Canadians were short on pitchers going into this one as all their pitchers would be working on short rest. It started off well for Canada as they would open the scoring in the first inning on a RBI single from Michael Crouse (Port Moody, BC) to score Lionel Morrill (Edmonton, AB) and give Canada the 1-0 lead. That would basically be one of few high points for the Canadians in this matchup. Chinese Taipei would get to Canadian starter François Lafreniere (St. Bruno, QC) in the fourth inning on back-to-back solo home runs from Yu-Hseng Chen and Fu-Lin Kuo. Taipei would add another run in the inning to take a 3-1 lead. Then Taipei would blow it open in fifth inning scoring five runs in the frame on five straight singles and a double to put them ahead 8-1. Canada would start clawing back in the sixth inning on the two-run double from Luke Willson (Lasalle, ON) to bring in Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) and Crouse and cut the lead to 8-3. But that is as close as the Canadians would get in this game as Taipei would add another run in the sixth and two more in the seventh to put it away. Canada would add one more run in the ninth inning on the RBI double from Ivan Hartle (North Vancouver, BC). “They found so many holes today that there wasn’t much we could do. They hit the ball well,” says Lawrie, who was 3-for-4 in this game. “Hats off to them, they swung the bats well today.” “Sixth place isn’t the result you want. We were down on our pitching and it makes it tough when you don’t have healthy arms,” says JNT Manager Greg Hamilton. “We were in tough today. They swung the bats well and we didn’t have a whole lot of answers, but I don’t want to take it away from them. They swung the bats well and they deserved to win,” Canada finishes the World Junior Championship with a 5-3 record. The margin for error in this type of tournament is very small and unfortunately for the Juniors, a championship was not meant to be this time around. “In the end, we lost a 2-1 game to Australia which could’ve completely changed the complexion of how things finished,” says Hamilton. “If the 2-1 ballgame goes the other way, you never know, but that’s what it is. It’s a small margin in this game from being at the ultimate level of success to being sixth.” The process begins again this coming fall as the Junior National Team will reconvene in Orlando for the Fall Instructional Camp at the Disney Wide World of Sports complex this October. From there a new team will be chosen to complete the quest for gold at the 2010 World Junior Championship, which will be in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

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Juniors Rally to Top Puerto Rico

  • August 02, 2008

EDMONTON – The Junior National Team brought in six runs in the top of the ninth to come from behind and beat Puerto Rico by a score of 9-6. The Juniors came into the frame trailing 6-3 after Puerto Rico broke a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the eighth inning by scoring three runs. However, Canada would tie it up with one swing of the bat as Carter Morrison (Langley, BC) hit a three-run home run to bring the Juniors back to even. “I was just working the count and got it to 3-1 when he threw me a fastball inside, which I had been waiting for all night and I turned on it,” says Morrison of his home run. Canada would then load the bases for Ivan Hartle (North Vancouver, BC), who would draw the walk to drive in the winning run for the Canadians. Jonathan Gilbert (St-Georges, QC) would hit a RBI single and Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) would drive in a run on a sacrifice fly to put Canada ahead by three. From there, Mike Monster (Kelowna, BC) went to the mound to close things out and got Jan Vazquez to strikeout for the final out and seal the victory. “These are not easy games when your goals and objectives go out the window the night before,” says JNT Manager Greg Hamilton. “Even though you’re only playing for placement, it does make a difference and it does matter and I’m glad to see we were able to dig deep in the end and win that.” Lost in the big ninth inning by the Canadians was the performance of starting pitcher Evan Grills (Whitby, ON), who would go seven strong innings, allowing three runs on three hits and five walks with seven strikeouts. “I was just trying to throw strikes and get ahead of batters,” says Grills. “I wanted to use my defense so I was a bit surprised by the number of strikeouts tonight.” Puerto Rico opened the scoring in the second inning when a pair of Canadian errors would allow a run to score and give Puerto Rico a 1-0 lead. Canada would immediately respond in the top of the third on a RBI single from Brett Lawrie to drive in James Kottaras (Markham, ON) and tie things up at 1-1. Canada would add two more in the top of the fourth inning on a RBI double from Luke Willson (Lasalle, ON) and a RBI from Kottaras and put the Juniors ahead by two. Puerto Rico would make things interesting by scoring one run in the fifth inning and another in the sixth to tie up the game and setup the late inning dramatics. Next up for the Junior National Team will be Chinese Taipei, who beat Mexico 1-0 earlier in the day. They will face off to see who will finish in fifth place. Game time is at 10:00 am in St. Albert.

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Juniors Fall Short in Quarters

  • August 01, 2008

EDMONTON – In what was predicted to be an even matchup, the fans in the stands got to see exactly that. However the Junior National Team would get the short end of the stick and fell just short as Australia would get an upset victory over Canada by a score of 2-1 in the quarter-final of the World Junior Championship. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the Canadians rallied to load the bases, beginning with Michael Crouse (Port Moody, BC) reaching on an error. Follow that up with a single from Carter Bell (Courtenay, BC) and a walk to Carter Morrison (Langley, BC) and that would bring Luke Willson (Lasalle, ON) to the plate with a chance to win it for Canada. With the count one ball and two strikes on Willson, the pitch from Aussie reliever Jarryd Sullivan seemed to have struck Willson in the shin, which would have brought in the tying run. However the home plate umpire disagreed and Willson would eventually strikeout swinging to end the ballgame. “I told the umpire that the ball hit me, but he said it didn’t,” says Willson. “There not much else you can do after that. I just wanted to make sure I wouldn’t be called out on a questionable call and I ended up swinging over a pitch that dropped down.” It was a tight battle throughout as both starting pitchers would go deep into the game give very little. Stosh Wawrzasek (Langley, BC) got the start on the mound for Canada and went six and a third strong innings, allowing two runs on six hits, one walk and four strikeouts. It was a similar line for Aussie starter Justin Erasmus as he would go seven innings, allowing one run on two hits and two walks with five strikeouts. Australia opened the scoring in the fourth inning, scoring a pair on a single and a sacrifice fly to take the lead 2-0. Canada responded in the sixth inning when James Kottaras (Markham, ON) came in to score on the sacrifice fly from Lionel Morrill (Edmonton, AB) to cut the lead in half. Unfortunately, that is as close as the Juniors would get. “They played a good game against us,” says Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC). “We lost as a team today, there’s no doubt about it. It was their game today and there’s no tomorrow in this tournament, so we just have to keep our heads up high and go after it again tomorrow.” “Sometimes in life you play for pride and that’s what we have to do,” says JNT Manager Greg Hamilton. “We came in here trying to win a medal and we thought we had a legitimate team to do it. We still do, but sometime it doesn’t go your way in a 2-1 game and now we have to go out and finish as high as we can and maintain the respect and pride we have in our program.” The Junior National Team will begin their quest to finish in the fifth spot starting on Saturday, August 2 against Puerto Rico. Game time is at 7:00 pm at John Fry Park.

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Juniors Tee Off on Czechs

  • July 31, 2008

EDMONTON – This one was never in doubt as the Junior National Team made quick work of the Czech Republic, winning by a score of 25-1 in seven innings at the World Junior Championship. The Canadians pounded out 23 hits as everyone in the lineup would get at least one hit, including five home runs from five different players. The flood gates were opened early as Canada would score seven runs in the top of the first inning, highlighted by Brett Lawrie’s (Langley, BC) three-run homer and James Kottaras’ (Markham, ON) RBI triple. The Juniors added one run in the second inning on Kottaras’ second RBI of the game to score Carter Bell (Courtenay, BC). Luke Willson (Lasalle, ON), who was a triple short of the cycle, hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning to put Canada ahead by ten. “In games like this, you just want to make sure you don’t do anything crazy,” says Willson, who was 5-for-5 with six RBI. The Czech Republic scored their only run of the game in the bottom half of the fourth, when Mates Hejma went deep off of Canadian starter François Lafreniere (St. Bruno, QC). That would be the only blemish of Lafreniere’s day as the right-hander would throw the complete game, allowing the one run on four hits, one walk and 12 strikeouts. “I knew that I couldn’t take these guys lightly,” says Lafreniere. “I just had to go out there and throw strikes and that’s what I did and it went well.” The Canadians kept their foot on the gas as they would add another five runs in the fifth inning, featuring a pair of home runs, one from Ivan Hartle (North Vancouver, BC) and one from Jonathan Gilbert (St-Georges, QC). Then Canada would put 10 more runs on the board in the sixth inning. The Juniors would collect eight hits in the frame, including a grand-slam home run from Marcus Knecht (Toronto, ON). “We did a good job offensively today, in that we didn’t try to pull off pitches,” says JNT coach Les MacTavish. “(Lafreniere) did a tremendous job on the mound today and I think that was the key to the ball game. We were able to save our arms and now we’ll be fresh and healthy for the playoffs.” Canada will open the playoffs against Australia on Friday, August 1. The Canadians can expect a far tougher test against the Aussies than they did today. “We just need to worry about ourselves and play our game,” says MacTavish. “We’ve got balance up and down our lineup and we’ve got arms that can keep you honest and I think if we play our game we have a great chance to be successful.” The quarter-final matchup between Canada and Australia is scheduled for 7:05 pm at Telus Field.

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Juniors, Czechs Postponed Due to Rain

  • July 30, 2008

EDMONTON – The Junior National Team’s matchup with the Czech Republic slated for today in St. Albert at the World Junior Championship has been postponed due to rain and will be made up on Thursday, July 31st at a time and location yet to be determined. Two early games today were completed without any delays. Australia defeated Russia 8-0 and Mexico took care the Netherlands by a score of 8-3. Once the remaining games are played tomorrow, the playoff picture will be set and Canada will start its quarter-final matchup with their pool A opponent on Friday, August1st.

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Juniors Merciless In Win Against Puerto Rico

  • July 29, 2008

EDMONTON – It did not begin well for the Junior National Team, but they would regroup and score 16 unanswered runs on route to 18-7 win over Puerto Rico at the World Junior Championship. All nine-hitters got at least one hit in this game. Leading the way was Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) who was a double short of the cycle, going 3-for-4 with six RBI, a triple and an inside the park home run. “We did a good job of handling pitches and we produced with guys in scoring position,” says Lawrie. “If we can keep producing like that and cash in guys we’re going to be in good shape.” This game would be called after seven innings due to the 10-run mercy rule which is in effect. However, the Canadians did not get this win the easy way as Puerto Rico would erase a one run lead in the bottom of the first by scoring six runs and take a 6-1 lead. Andrew Ledger (Toronto, ON) started on the mound for Canada and would give up five of the six first inning runs, pitching one-third of an inning. Jonathan Gilbert (St-Georges, QC) came in relief of Ledger and would give up the sixth run before settling down and getting the final two outs of the inning. The Juniors would recover and begin chipping away by scoring two runs in the top of the second inning. Carter Bell (Courtenay, BC) and Luke Willson (Lasalle, ON) began the inning with back-to-back doubles. Carter Morrison (Langley, BC) and James Kottaras (Markham, ON) would cash them in, reducing the Puerto Ricans’ lead to three. The Canadians opened the flood gates in the fourth inning by scoring six runs and taking a 9-6 lead. Greg Densem (Toronto, ON) drove in the first run of the frame on a double, scoring Morrison. Ivan Hartle (North Vancouver, BC) and Lionel Morrill (Edmonton, AB) would follow up by driving in each a run. Then Morrill and Brett Lawrie would score the go-ahead and what would be the winning run on a triple from Michael Crouse (Port Moody, BC). Crouse would score on a Carter Bell single. From there Gilbert was on cruise control. He would hold Puerto Rico to one hit over the next five innings. In total, he allowed two hits with five strikeouts in 5.2 innings pitched. “I just went in and tried to throw strikes and keep us in the game so we could comeback and win,” says Gilbert. “(Gilbert) was outstanding,” says JNT Manager Greg Hamilton. “You had to have that. We were in a situation where we couldn’t wait any longer. Not only did he keep us in the game and give our offence the chance to take over, but he helped us save some arms we’ll need moving forward.” The Canadians would answer their six run fourth inning with a five run fifth, highlighted by a triple from Lawrie to score three runs. Canada would keep the pedal to the metal in the sixth by adding another four runs featuring a two-run inside the park home run from Lawrie where the center fielder lost the ball, allowing the Brewers draft pick to go around the bases. “I knew I hit it hard,” says Lawrie. “It was one of those things where I knew he had lost it, so I just took off and kept running hard.” “It’s been a long time,” adds Lawrie of his inside the parker. “I can’t really remember the last time I hit one.” With the game well in hand, the Canadians turned to Mike Monster (Kelowna, BC) in the seventh to close things out. The Puerto Ricans would add an unearned run but that would be it as Monster would strikeout the Puerto Rican hitter for the final out of the game. Next up for the Junior National Team is a date with the Czech Republic. Game time is Wednesday at 3:00 pm in St. Albert.

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Media Welcome to Canadian Olympic Team Golf Tournament and Practice

  • July 28, 2008

OTTAWA – The Canadian Olympic Team will hold a golf tournament at Lionhead Golf & Country Club on Tuesday, July 29th. The modified shotgun tournament will begin at 8:30 am and will be open to the media to attend. On July 30th, from 3:30 pm - 6:30 pm, the Olympic Team will hold a practice open to the media at Connorvale Park in Etobicoke. Players and coaches will arrive at the field at approximately 3:00 pm and will be available to the media until 3:30 pm. Any further player requests on July 30th while at the park will be acknowledged at the player’s convenience. For any further information, contact André Cormier, Manager of Media and Public Relations at (613) 282-7836 or by e-mail at media@baseball.ca.

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Juniors Suffer First Loss at Worlds

  • July 27, 2008

EDMONTON – The Junior National Team had Cuba on the ropes the entire game, but they could not hold on as a wild pitch and an error allowed two runs to score in the eighth inning and give the Cubans a 4-3 win over the Canadians. With Canada ahead by a score of 3-2 in the top of the eighth, Cuba had men on second and third with one out when Evan Grills (Whitby, ON) uncorked a wild pitch, accompanied by an error would allowed both runners to score and give Cuba the 4-3 lead. That wild pitch would be the only kink in Grills’ armour on this day as the 16-year-old left-hander threw eight solid innings, allowing the four runs, two of which were earned, on eight hits and two walks with six strikeouts. “I wanted to be on the mound for this game,” says Grills. “After facing them last year (in Mexico) I wanted a second chance. I thought I pitched well today and the defense played well behind me. We just didn’t come out on top.” After the Cubans took the lead, the Canadians would threaten in the bottom half of the inning with runners on first and second with two outs, but the Cubans got Ivan Hartle (North Vancouver, BC) to ground into a force out to end the frame. Brandon Petite (Glace Bay, NS) pitched the ninth inning and kept the Cubans at bay with some help from his defense as Michael Crouse (Port Moody, BC) and Lionel Morrill (Edmonton, AB) both made spectacular catches in the outfield. Crouse made a diving grab in center for the second out, while Morrill made a leaping catch at the wall in left for the third out. Unfortunately, there were no comebacks like the night before as the Canadians could not get anything started in the ninth and they would go down in order to end the game. “It was a good ball game by both teams,” says JNT Manager Greg Hamilton. “Neither team gave in and the difference between these two teams is very small.” “I think we showed that we can beat them,” adds Grills. “One play was the difference in the end.” The game started with the Cubans getting on the board first in the top of the first inning on a RBI single to make it 1-0. Canada responded in the bottom of the second by scoring a pair of runs to take a 2-1 lead. Carter Morrison (Langley, BC) scored on a wild pitch and Marcus Knecht (Toronto, ON) crossed home plate on a throwing error. Cuba would tie it up in the third with another RBI single, but Canada regained the lead in the fifth on a RBI triple from Morrison. Canada had their chances to put the game away, but ended up leaving ten runners stranded. The Junior National Team will enjoy a day off on Monday and will return to action on Tuesday, July 29th at 7:05 pm against Puerto Rico at Telus Field.

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Juniors Win Wild One In Bottom of the Ninth

  • July 26, 2008

EDMONTON – In what was a back and forth tilt with Chinese Taipei, the Junior National Team pulled off one of its most exciting wins to date when Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) hit a walk off triple to break a 6-6 tie in the bottom of the ninth inning to win their second game at the World Junior Championship by a score of 7-6. Lawrie’s third triple of the game with one out in the bottom of the ninth brought in James Kottaras (Markham, ON) to score the winning run in what turned out to be a wild affair. “I love being put in a game breaking situation,” says Lawrie, who was 3-for-4 with three triples and three RBI. “I just kept my composure and I was able to drive a fastball on the outer half into the gap and we ended up winning the game. It was fun.” With the score 6-4 for Canada heading into the top of the ninth, Chinese Taipei were able to load the bases with only one out on Mike Monster (Kelowna, BC) when he hit Ming-Yen Kan to bring in a run and make it 6-5. Evan Grills (Whitby, ON) was then brought in to relieve Monster with the bases still loaded. Fu-Lin Kuo would hit a single to center to bring in the tying run and Chun-Yi Wu was waved in to try and score the go-ahead run. The throw from center beat Wu to the plate with catcher Greg Densem (Toronto, ON) waiting to apply the tag. Wu would then virtually dropkick Densem, striking his spikes in the catcher’s mask. This incident would clear both benches, but the situation was diffused before there were any further altercations. Wu was ejected from the game and could face a possible suspension. The fireworks in the top half of the frame setup what was a dramatic finish in favour of the Canadians. “That’s international baseball. You got to play as a team,” says JNT Manager Greg Hamilton. “Everyone has to pull for one another. You got to pick everybody up and have a never say die attitude. We got some guys who will compete really hard and it’s never over until it’s over.” “We were able to bring the guys together and dial it down a little bit,” adds Hamilton, referring to the incident at the plate. “We got them to understand that there is potentially a lot more baseball still to be played and we wanted to keep our heads above and not let it get away. The incident at the plate and the heroics in the bottom of the ninth overshadowed what was a great back and forth battle between these two teams. The Juniors opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning by scoring a pair of runs, highlighted by Lawrie’s first triple of the game to drive Canada’s first run. Nick Bucci (Sarnia, ON) got the start on the hill for Canada and took care of Chinese Taipei in order in the first inning. He would retire the side in order again in the third on route to a five inning outing, allowing three runs and two walks with five strikeouts. “I wanted to give six strong innings. I couldn’t get that done, but the team came thru in the clutch,” says Bucci. “This is the biggest win in my life. The best game I’ve ever played in.” With the score 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth, Lawrie hit his second triple to drive in Kottaras for the Juniors’ fourth run. Taipei would make it 4-3 in the sixth, but Canada would respond in the bottom half of the inning on a sacrifice fly from Marcus Knecht (Toronto, ON) to score Carter Morrison (Langley, BC), who had reached with a triple. Taipei would once again make it a one run game in the seventh, but Canada brought their lead back up to two in the eighth when Carter Bell (Courtenay, BC) would score on a fielder’s choice, setting up what would be an exciting final frame. The Junior National Team will now face one of its biggest challenges in the tournament when they take on Cuba on Sunday, July 27 at 3:00 pm at Telus Field.

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