18U Pan Ams: Canada tops Panama to earn spot in 2015 World Cup

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Sept 12, 2014 (ISN) – LA PAZ, Mexico- Team Canada picked a fantastic time to play their best team-game of
the 18U Pan American Championship earning a convincing 8-2 win over Panama.

The win is significant for two reasons with the main one guaranteeing Canada no
worse than a fourth place finish which automatically qualifies the team for the
2015 IBAF 18U World Cup in Japan.

“We came here with the goal to qualify and we were able to get that done tonight
which is great for this program,” said Head Coach Greg Hamilton. “It was a
collective effort tonight, we got good pitching timely hitting and some plays
defensively.”

The win also clinches a spot in one of two medal games slated for Sunday, September
14th. Canada has two games remaining in the round robin with host Mexico on deck
tomorrow night and the Cubans on Saturday.

“We’re going to give it a run as best we can,” added Hamilton. “We believe we’re a
good baseball team and we believe we’re a good baseball playing nation when we come
to these tournaments.

“We’ve put ourselves in a position where we can go after things a little bit.”

The Canadian bench was fired up right from the get-go and they had plenty to cheer
about early as Canada built a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. After a pair of
walks, Gareth Morgan (Toronto, ON) doubled to the wall in centerfield that easily
brought in LP Pelletier (Montréal, QC) from second base, but Luke Horanski (Dugald,
MB) was gunned down at home plate trying to score from first.

Morgan moved to third on a wild pitch that caused Panama to change their pitcher.
The new hurler was welcomed into the game when Josh Naylor (Mississauga, ON) singled
through the right side with the infield pulled in to put Canada up by two.

Morgan and Naylor were at it again in the fourth as Morgan led off the inning with a
single and after moving to second on a wild pitch, scored when Naylor doubled down
the right field line. Naylor took advantage of the ball being misplayed in right
field to end up on third and scored the second run of the inning on a wild pitch
with two out.

Morgan ended the game 4-for-5 with one RBI and three runs scored, while Naylor went
3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored.

Canadian starter Mike Soroka (Calgary, AB) didn’t allow his first hit of the
ballgame until the third and after a two-out walk left two runners on when Pelletier
made a great leaping grab at second base, falling into right field and surely saving
a run.

More great defence from Canada continued in the fourth as Mitch Bigras (Sarnia, ON),
for the second time in the game, made a diving catch in left field that saved extra
bases before Soroka got two fly-outs later in the inning after allowing back-to-back
singles.

With Panama threatening in the fifth, a key point in the game took place after
Panama scored a run on a base hit with the bases loaded. Head Coach Greg Hamilton
brought Colton Wood (Victoria, BC) into the game and the first batter he faced
lifted a fly ball to right fielder Demi Orimoloye (Orleans, ON).

“I didn’t have to move much (to catch the ball) and I knew that I had a pretty good
shot to get the runner at home so I positioned myself to get rid of the ball quick,”
explained Orimoloye.

Get rid of the ball quick he did firing a strike to catcher Luke Horanski who had
more than enough time to lay down the tag to get the sliding runner. Wood struck out
the next batter he faced and Canada escaped allowing only one run considering that
it could have been much worse.

“It could have been a completely different game if we don’t limit the damage in that
inning,” said Hamilton. “It was a big play, that inning could’ve changed the whole
complexion of the game.”

Canada went on to add a run in the seventh, on a two-out RBI double from Pelletier,
and three in the eighth after an RBI single from Orimoloye and a pinch-hit double
off the bat of Robert Byckowski (Georgetown, ON) that brought in two.

Colton Wood did an admirable job after coming into a tough situation in the fifth
pitching five innings allowing only one hit and one walk, while striking out six.

The atmosphere for tomorrow night’s Canada/Mexico promises to be electric with a
sold-out Arturo C. Nahl Stadium in La Paz cheering for their country.

“It’s going to be fun,” said Hamilton. “We put a lot of time in (with this program)
and the chance to represent your country in atmosphere like there will be tomorrow
night will be special.

“I don’t think (our guys) need to be nervous. It’s an opportunity to come out and
feast off the crowd and see if we can silence them.”

UP NEXT: Tomorrow’s game against Mexico is set for 8pm MDT/10pm EDT at Arturo C.
Nahl Stadium in La Paz…LHP JP Stevenson (Hunter River, PE) is expected to start.

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