by Adam Morissette
March 16, 2014, ST.PETERSBURG, Fla. (ISN) – The Junior National Team put on their finest performance of spring training today at Al Lang Field, but in the end it wasn’t enough as the Pittsburgh Pirates took advantage of some costly errors and shut the juniors offensively to escape with a 7-1 victory.
The Pirates scored twice in the first inning and added two more in the second before scoring three in the eighth.
Gareth Morgan (Toronto, ON) hit a sac-fly in the bottom of the seventh to score JF Garon (Terrebonne, QC) from third base for the juniors’ only run of the ballgame.
Five players collected singles including Morgan, Garon, Josh Naylor (Mississauga, ON), Matt Lloyd (Okotoks, AB) and Charles Leblanc (Laval, QC).
Starter JP Stevenson (Hunter River, PE) got two quick outs in the top of the first before giving up a triple that rolled to the wall in right field and later scored on a throwing error from third baseman Mike Moffatt (Burlington, ON).
A single to the next batter scored another run to give the Pirates an early 2-0 lead.
In the second, Stevenson gave-up a lead-off double that came around to score on a single before another throwing error followed by an RBI groundout brought in the second run of the inning.
Stevenson came back out for the third and got two fly-outs and a ground out which brought an end to his three inning outing.
After Matt Ianni (Ottawa, ON) pitched a clean fourth inning, the juniors got back-to-back, two-out singles from Morgan and Naylor before Mitch Robinson (Surrey, BC) was robbed of extra-bases by a nice running catch in right field.
Kurtis Horne (Sooke, BC) took the mound for the fifth and sixth innings and didn’t allow any runs, while recording two strikeouts, while Jackson Wark (St. Albert, AB) tossed a scoreless seventh.
JF Garon led-off the seventh with a single to left and later scored on a sac-fly from Morgan to get the juniors back in the game but three Pirate runs scored in the top of the eight to put the game out of reach.
Kristjan Storrie (Langley, BC) struggled with control early walking the only three batters he faced, while throwing three wild pitches leading to one run crossing home plate and Manager Greg Hamilton coming out of the dugout to replace him on the mound with Mitch Bigras (Sarnia, ON).
With runners on the corners and nobody out, a groundout to first brought in one run before a single to left scored the Pirates third run of the frame. Bigras managed to get out of the inning with a strikeout and groundout to second before holding the Pirates off the scoreboard in the ninth.
Up next: Players, coaches and staff will go their separate ways tomorrow before reconvening next month in Orlando for the annual Extended Spring Training Camp at ESPN Wide World of Sports from April 10-20…In May, the team will participate in the annual Dominican Summer League before playing an exhibition series in Cuba in July…The COPABE Americas 18U World Cup Qualification Tournament will take place in Lagos de Moreno, Mexico in late summer/early fall (exact date TBA).