by Adam Morissette
March 14, 2014, ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (ISN) – The Junior National Team’s offensive struggles continued today as they only accounted for four hits and failed to take advantage of scoring opportunities when they presented themselves in dropping a 7-4 decision to Faith Baptist High School.
Through seven innings, the juniors had only three hits and scored just one run before LP Pelletier (Montréal, QC) got things going in the eighth drilling a triple down the left field line that scored Mike Moffatt (Burlington, ON.) Pelletier later scampered home on a wild pitch to the pull the juniors within one.
Reliever Mike Soroka (Calgary, AB) was effective out of the bullpen coming in with two out in the seventh and getting a groundout on the first pitch he threw before tossing a perfect eighth with two strikeouts.
His luck would change in the top of the ninth as a walk and single led to a double steal before a double cashed in both runners and gave Faith Baptist a three run cushion.
The juniors had opportunities to score getting runners to third base in third and fourth frames and left the bases loaded in the seventh.
Making matters worse was the fact that four Faith Baptist pitchers combined to strike out 15 batters.
Starter Kyle Ross (Maple Ridge, BC) was effective through two innings facing only seven batters and striking out three of them.
Faith Baptist got to Ross in the third exploding for three runs to break open the scoring after a leadoff double and a walk both came around to score on an RBI triple.
After issuing his fourth walk of the inning that brought in another run, Ross was removed from the game and Matt Ianni (Ottawa, ON) came out of the bullpen.
Ianni came back out for the fourth and tossed a scoreless inning with one strikeout.
With one out in the fourth and Gareth Morgan (Toronto, ON) on base via a walk, Josh Naylor (Mississauga, ON) picked up the juniors first hit of the game lacing a single to left.
Morgan and Naylor then executed a double steal and Morgan later scored when Mitch Bigras (Sarnia, ON) grounded out to first.
With Nolan Bumstead (Calgary, AB) now on the mound, Faith Baptist regained their three run lead scoring a run in the fifth that came when catcher Lucas Zilli’s (Toronto, ON) throw from behind home plate on an attempted steal sailed into left field.
Faith Baptist would score one more run off Bumstead in the seventh cashing in a runner from third on a sac-fly before the juniors got one back in the bottom of the inning as Josh Naylor scored from third with the bases loaded on a fielder’s choice.
Robert Byckowski (Etobicoke, ON) and Demi Orimoloye (Orleans, ON) each singled in the inning, while two walks led to the bases being loaded on two separate occasions.
Up next: The Junior National Team will face a group of prospects from the Detroit Tigers tomorrow afternoon at 1pm ET at Al Lang Field…Zach Pop (Brampton, ON) is expected to start with Ben Onyshko (Winnipeg, MB), Colton Wood (Victoria, BC) and Matt Lloyd (Okotoks, AB) scheduled to follow.