by Adam Morissette
March 9, 2014, ST. PETERSBURG (ISN) – The 2014 season officially kicked-off today for the Junior National Team program as the team split into two sides for an inter-squad game that lasted eight innings on a gorgeous day for baseball at Al Lang Stadium.
The ball was kicked around a bit as both teams combined committed six errors and, as expected, some pitchers had a tough time finding the strike zone after throwing indoors all winter.
In the end it was Coach Adam Stern’s Canada Red squad coming out on top with a 7-2 victory over Coach Shawn Bowman’s Canada Black squad.
Josh Naylor (Mississauga, ON) showed that he didn’t collect much rust over the winter coming up with a 4-for-5 day at the plate with two runs scored to lead all hitters.
Canada Black jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Demi Orimoloye (Orleans, ON) walked and later scored from third on a wild pitch.
Canada Red scored twice in the third with runs coming into count on a wild pitch and passed ball to give them a lead they would hold onto for the rest of the game.
JF Garon (Terrebonne, QC) tripled to right field in the fourth and scored on a sac-fly from Andrew Yerzy (Toronto, ON) putting Canada Red up by and pair before they scored twice in the fifth to take a four run lead.
Robert Byckowski (Etobicoke, ON) was a bright spot in the Canada Black order collecting two hits including a single in the sixth that scored teammate Gareth Morgan (Toronto, ON) to make the score 5-2.
Canada Red put things out of reach in the seventh scoring twice after a bases loaded walk and a fielder’s choice to give them a five run cushion.
In total, ten pitchers got their work in during the inter-squad game including Kurtis Horne (Sooke, BC) and Jackson Wark (St. Albert, AB) who each tossed two scoreless innings. Brad Smith (Vancouver, BC) threw two innings for Canada Black and managed to pick-off three base runners while not allowing an earned run.
Matthew Ianni (Ottawa, ON), Ben Onyshko (Winnipeg, MB) and Nolan Bumstead (Calgary, AB) each threw one scoreless frame with Ianni fanning two batters and Onyshko striking out three.
Up Next: The juniors will face their first true competition of Spring Training tomorrow when a group of Philadelphia Phillies prospects make the trip from the Carpenter Complex in Clearwater for a 2pm ET game. The game will help mark the 100th Anniversary of historic Al Lang Stadium in St.
Petersburg with a ceremony scheduled to take place prior to the first pitch.RHP Mike Soroka (Calgary, AB) is slated to start for the juniors.