* The Canadian Junior National Team finished out its spring tour with a 4-1 loss against the Tampa Bay Rays Sunday. Now, coach Greg Hamilton and his coaches will decide the composition of the roster for the April trip to ESPN’s Wide World of Sports.
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Rays top juniors in spring training finale
By Adam Morissette
Score: Tampa Bay Rays 4 Canada (18U) 1
Location: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
Canada 18U Starting Lineup:
1. Miles Gordon – CF
2. Kobe Hyland – SS
3. Tristan Pompey – DH
4. Demi Orimoloye – RF
5. Andrew Yerzy C
6. JF Garon – LF
7. Peter Hutzal – 3B
8. Royce Ando – 2B
9. Darren Shred – DH
10. Cooper Lamb – 1B
Starting Pitcher: RHP Michael Soroka
HOW IT HAPPENED
The juniors opened the scoring in the top of the fourth when Andrew Yerzy (Toronto, Ont.) walked with the bases loaded leading to a Rays pitching change. Miles Gordon (Oakville, Ont.) walked with one out before Kobe Hyland (Spruce Grove, Alta.) singled to right. Tristan Pompey (Milton, Ont.) then walked to load the bases.
The Rays responded with three runs in the home half of the fourth. Reliever Tyler Whitbread (Camlachie, Ont.) issued a leadoff walk and after a groundout advanced the runner to second, a single brought him home. On a stolen base attempt that saw catcher Yerzy’s throw skip into centre field, the Rays runner moved to third and scored on a groundout to second. A triple followed by a Peter Hutzal (Calgary, AB) error at third base brought in the Rays third run of the inning.
The Rays added a run in the fifth as a two-out double came around to score from second on an infield single. With the runner on second, reliever Matt Ianni (Ottawa, Ont.) raced over to first base to cover on a groundball to the right side but was beaten to the bag by the runner. By the time Ianni turned around, the runner from second was crossing home plate.
JNT starter Mike Soroka (Calgary, Alta.) worked two scoreless innings giving up only one hit. He registered a strikeout, sitting down Rays 2014 first rounder Casey Gillaspie.
Reliever Matt Jones (Whitby, Ont.) worked a perfect third inning and got some help when centre fielder Gordon made a tremendous catch to rob a leadoff base hit.
After a one-out double and error at third put runners on second and third for the Rays in the sixth, reliever Mathieu Deneault-Gauthier (Candiac, Que.) dug deep getting a strikeout and groundout to second to end the inning.
Reliever Josh Burgmann (Nanaimo, BC) pitched a clean seventh inning getting a strikeout before getting a pair of comebackers to the mound that he was able to record outs on.
Hits: 2, Hyland
Runs: 1, Gordon
RBIs: 1, Yerzy
Strikeouts: 1, Soroka, Ianni, Deneault-Gauthier, Burgmann
THEY SAID IT
Manager Greg Hamilton on the experience of playing at Tropicana Field:
“It was a great environment for our group. To be a young player and play in a major league park with a bit of a crowd and the atmosphere with everything around here is special.”
Hamilton on his team’s performance:
“I thought we played well. We’re getting better (as a team).
Hamilton’s assessment of his team during spring training in St. Petersburg:
“I’m real happy. I divide the week in half. You hope that you get better in the middle part and then obviously finish off strong in the latter part. I thought the last half of the week was very good – we tightened up things, pitchers threw strikes and we cleaned some things up on defence. We got better (as the week went on) and progression is the key.”
The Rays have three Canadians in Maxx Tissenbaum (Toronto, Ont.), Jared Mortensen (Abbotsford, BC) and Jamie Mitchell (Calgary, Alta.) is their organization although none of them made the trip to St. Petersburg from their spring training complex in Port Charlotte.
Players, coaches and staff will depart Tampa Bay tomorrow and return to their respective destinations … The Junior National Team program will resume in Orlando, Fla. from April 16-26 for the annual extended spring training camp at ESPN Wide World of Sports … The camp will aide in player development and talent evaluation for the 2015 WBSC U18 World Cup in Osaka, Japan from August 28-September 6.