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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Juniors Shutout Italy to Open Worlds

  • July 25, 2008

EDMONTON – Stosh Wawrzasek (Langley, BC) was too much to handle and the Canadian offense took advantage of some mistakes from Italy in the opening game of the World Junior Baseball Championship in Edmonton tonight as Canada would go on to win by a score of 7-0. Wawrzasek was virtually untouchable as the Milwaukee Brewers prospect would scatter only two hits collect 12 strikeouts over seven innings on the mound. He struck out the side in both the second and sixth innings. “The game plan was just to throw strikes,” says Wawrzasek. “I just went out there and pounded the zone just so I could get a feel (for the hitters) and the second time around I’d know what to do.” “It’s a good start for the whole team. It’s a great way to start our tournament, especially with the run support we have.” Canada got on the board quickly with a sacrifice fly from Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) scored Ivan Hartle (North Vancouver, BC) in the first inning and give the Canadians the 1-0 lead. With the score 2-0 for Canada going into the sixth inning, the Juniors would put the game away by putting up four runs in the frame, highlighted by Lawrie’s first home run of the tournament. “I had a 2-0 count and I knew he was going to bring me a fastball and I just put a good swing on it,” says Lawrie of his home run. The Canadians would add their seventh run in the seventh inning on a RBI double from Michael Crouse (Port Moody, BC) to bring in Marcus Knecht (Toronto, ON). In the end, the Juniors came into this game not taking anything for granted, which is exactly what JNT Manager Greg Hamilton wants out of his team. “When you play teams like that it’s never easy and you have to grind it out,” says Hamilton. “Stosh did a great job of pounding the strike zone and that’s what you need from your pitchers.” With the win, Canada is now 1-0, and they already have a chance to put themselves in the driver’s seat tomorrow after an upset earlier in the day when Puerto Rico defeated Cuba by a score of 5-4. Up next for Canada will be Chinese Taipei. They are a team that the Canadians are very familiar with having played them six times since July 15th. “We’ve got to come out with some energy,” says Hamilton. “They do the little things right and they force you to make plays. We have to come out with an intensity level that exceeds theirs and I like our chances.” Canada will face Chinese Taipei on Saturday, July 26 starting at 7:05 pm at Telus Field. Nick Bucci (Sarnia, ON) is scheduled to get the start on the mound for Canada.

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Baseball Canada Announces Final Roster for the World Juniors

  • July 24, 2008

EDMONTON - Baseball Canada announces today the final roster for the World Junior Baseball Championship in Edmonton from July 25-August 3. The 18-man roster has no shortage of prospects. Leading the way is Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) who became the highest Canadian position player (fourth player overall) to be selected in the MLB First Year Player Draft. The 18-year-old catcher/infielder was chosen 16th overall by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2008 draft. “We’re going to be real competitive,” says JNT Manager Greg Hamilton. “Offensively, we’re going to put up some runs every night and our pitching will throw strikes and we’re going to make people beat us and we got a chance to go deep into the tournament.” The Canadians will begin their quest for gold on Friday, July 25th, when they take on Italy at Telus Field. Game time is set for 7:30 pm. 2008 World Junior Championship Roster 2008 World Junior Championship Schedule

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Juniors Drop Final Exhibition Game

  • July 23, 2008

OKOTOKS – The Junior National Team and the United States were tangled in a back and forth matchup until a couple of key errors allowed the Americans to take the lead for good as the Juniors dropped their final exhibition game by a score of 9-6. With the game tied 5-5 going into the sixth inning, a pair of errors allowed the Americans to score four runs in the frame and take a 9-5 lead. The Canadians would get one more run in the seventh inning when Carter Bell (Courtenay, BC) drove in Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) on a sacrifice fly, but that was all they could get. “We’re going to be real competitive,” says JNT Manager Greg Hamilton. “Offensively, we’re going to put up some runs every night and our pitching will throw strikes and we’re going to make people beat us and we got a chance to go deep into the tournament.” The Juniors would open the scoring in the first inning when Bell, who went 2-for-3 with four RBI in this game, would hit a two-RBI double to score James Kottaras (Markham, ON) and Lawrie to give the Canadians a 2-0 lead. The Americans would reduce the lead to one in the second inning when Andrew Aplin hit a sacrifice fly to bring in the first run for the U.S. and make it 2-1 for Canada. Andrew Ledger (Toronto, ON) was the starter on the mound for the Canadians and held the U.S. to one run on three hits with one strikeout in three innings of work. In the fourth inning, the Canadians added two more runs to go ahead by three when Marcus Knecht (Toronto, ON) and Michael Crouse (Port Moody, BC) would come in to score and give the Juniors a 4-1 lead. That lead was short lived as Wes Hatton would hit a bases loaded double for the Americans to drive in all three runners and tie the game 4-4 in the bottom of the fourth. The Canadians would take the lead again in the fifth when Carter Bell would drive in the third of his four RBI on a single to score Luke Willson (Lasalle, ON) and give the Juniors a 5-4 advantage. “It was a good team effort by everybody and we competed with them,” says Bell. “If you can compete with the U.S. then you can compete with anybody. We made some costly errors, but we battled in there the entire time and I think we’re just as good as they are.” But again, the lead was short lived as the Americans put four runs across in the sixth and never looked back. The Juniors completed their exhibition schedule with a riding high despite the loss and are now looking forward to Edmonton and get down to business. The Juniors will be looking to win the gold on home soil. “I think we have a really good shot at winning a gold medal,” says Bell. “I’m really happy with how things are going. The entire team is swinging the bat well, our pitching is solid and I’m really happy with the way things are going.” The Junior National Team will begin its quest for gold on Friday, July 25 against Italy. Game time is at 7:30 pm at Telus Field.

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Juniors Win Okotoks Opener

  • July 22, 2008

OKOTOKS – The Junior National Team shore things up defensively in their first game in the Okotoks and the offense came alive when it had to as the Juniors would go on to take their opener in Alberta by a score of 6-3 over the Okotoks Dawgs. Pitching and defense was solid in this one as the Canadian pitchers gave up only three runs on eight hits and the defense played flawlessly as no errors were committed, a subject that was addressed over the last two days. “We had a much better energy level in this game,” says JNT Manager Greg Hamilton. “I thought we were flat in Winnipeg and when you’re flat you pay a price for that. We pretty much put together a complete game today.” The Canadians got all their runs early in this one putting four runs on the board in the second inning then adding a pair of runs in the third inning. Luke Willson (Lasalle, ON) got things started in the second with a leadoff solo-home run to put Canada ahead 1-0. After a single from Lionel Morrill (Edmonton, AB) and a double form Michael Crouse (Port Moody, BC), Maxx Tissenbaum (Toronto, ON) would drive them both in with a single and put his team ahead by three. James Kottaras (Markham, ON) drove in the fourth run of the inning with a single to score Tissenbaum. Kottaras had a solid day offensively, going 3-for-5 with the RBI and made some great defensive plays at third. “I felt pretty confident today,” says Kottaras. “I knew I had to step it up a little bit and do the best I can. Went up to the plate with everything in mind and just hope for the best.” The third inning saw back-to-back singles from Willson and Morrill to open the inning. Carter Morrison (Langley, BC) would drive in Willson with a single, then an RBI single from Jeff Hunt (Cambridge, ON) drove in Morrill giving Canada more than it would need in this game. Canada’s performance on the mound and in the field is what solidified the victory. Evan Grills (Whitby, ON), who started on the mound, gave up two run on four hits and two walks with a pair of strikeouts in four innings of work. Nick Bucci (Sarnia, ON) had a solid outing in relief. His only blemish was a solo home run to the first batter he faced in the fifth inning. He would pitch three innings, allowing the one run, two hits and one walk with three strikeouts. Then, Brandon Petite (Glace Bay, NS) and Mike Monster (Kelowna, BC) shut things down in the eighth and ninth innings, both retiring the side in order and each registering a strikeout. This was a good bounce back game for the Juniors after a mediocre outing in Winnipeg. But the Canadians keep working to get to Edmonton in the best possible shape they can be to hopefully win a medal. “I think we just need to stick together,” says Kottaras. “We had a couple rough games, but just keep going out and keep putting up our numbers and making the plays and everything will be all right.” Up next for the Junior National Team is their familiar foe on this Canadian tour as they take on Chinese Taipei at Seaman Stadium at 2:05 pm on Tuesday.

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