THUNDER BAY – Philip Dierdrick (Ajax, ON) drilled an opposite field grand slam in the top of the 1st inning and the Junior National Team hung on to beat Korea 5-4. The win moved the JNT’s record to 2 wins and 1 loss in the tournament with two round-robin games remaining.
“That definitely was the biggest hit of my career,” said Diedrick after the victory. “I was just trying to go with the pitch. I knew they weren’t going to come inside on me, so I just went with it.”
Alex Calbick (Burnaby, BC) and Brandon Dailey (Brantford, ON) both walked to lead-off the game. The Korean’s then decided to change pitchers, bringing in a left hander to try and thwart the lefty dominant Canadian batting order.
“I think they wanted to see how far he (the right-hander who started the game) could go,” added Diedrick. “I think the plan was to go with the lefty the whole time.”
After the pitching change Dalton Pompey (Mississauga, ON) struck out and Kellin Deglan (Langley, BC) walked bringing to the plate Justin Atkinson (Surrey, BC). Atkinson then hit into a fielder’s choice with the throw forcing Calbick out at home plate and the Korean infield playing in. This set the table for Diedrick, whose blast brought the Canadian faithful out of their seats.
Korea was quick to respond in the bottom of the first as JNT starter Jonathan Paquet (Ancienne Lorette, QC) gave up a solo homerun to Jin Sung Kang that landed over the left field wall.
After a scoreless 2nd inning the Korean’s crept back into the game scoring 2-runs in the 3rd. With 2 out, the homerun hitter Kang hit a double off the fence in left field. Kang scored on a single by the next batter who advanced to 2nd base after Paquet gave up a walk. The JNT looked to get out of the inning without too much damage done, but a ball that was fielded by 1st base man Jalen Harris (Toronto, ON) was overthrown to Paquet who was covering the bag, allowing the 3rd run to score.
Paquet’s afternoon ended during the 4th inning when he gave up a double and hit a batter with 1 out. Brian Smith (Pickering, ON) came on in relief and got off to a shaky start by walking the first batter he faced and plunking the next batter to bring in the game tying run. Smith then induced a ground ball to 3rd baseman Brandon Dailey (Brantford, ON) who started a double play to end the frame.
Deglan led off the 5th inning, taking matters into his own hands by belting a ball over the centre fielders head for a stand-up double. Atkinson then promptly delivered a single to left field advancing Deglan to 3rd with nobody out. Deglan later scored the go-ahead run when the Korean pitcher unleashed a wild pitch. For Deglan it was his best day at the plate to this point in the tournament, getting 2 hits and scoring 2 runs.
“At the start of the tournament I was just pulling off everything,” explained Deglan. “Just recently I’ve been calmer at the plate, staying back and trusting my hands to drive the ball.”
Once the JNT took the lead the rest of the game became a nail biter as Korea threatened to tie the score.
With 1 out in the bottom of the 5th, Smith gave up a double but quickly put the Korean hopes to rest by striking out the next two batters.
“When I first got out there I was struggling,” noted Smith. “But I just fought back and grinded it out like (Coach) Paul Quantrill (port Hope, ON) has always told me, just grind out your pitches.”
‘Grind it out’ is certainly what Smith did as he lasted 4 and 2/3 innings allowing no earned runs, walking 4 and striking out 6.
When Smith left the game in the 8th inning, Nicholas Pivetta (Victoria, BC) was faced with the task of recording 1 out with the bases loaded and the Koreans pressing for the tying run. Pivetta was able to force the Korean homerun hitter Kang to ground out to Dailey at 3rd base and beating the runner to the bag for the force out.
The JNT missed an opportunity in the top of the 9th inning to add insurance runs to their lead. Three straight singles loaded the bases, but the Korean pitcher who came into the game in the first inning and threw 144 pitches, recorded three straight outs.
The game was now put into the hands of Pivetta who composed himself wonderfully in front of the boisterous Canadian crowd. After getting a strikeout and a groundout, Pivetta blew a 1-2 fastball past the final Korean batter to end the game in front of a crowd where you could not find anyone sitting down. The Canadian players swarmed the mound to celebrate an enormous win for their team and country.
“It’s huge (the win)”, said Head Coach Greg Hamilton (Ottawa, ON). “We’ve played Cuba and Korea back-to-back and we’ve played with them pitch-for-pitch and inning-for-inning.”
Although Hamilton was extremely pleased with the win and with his teams play he still maintained that there is a lot of work to be done.
“I think focus is the key, we’ve got a lot of work to do yet,” Hamilton cautioned. “That’s the nature of this tournament, its up and its down. You may have to play someone the next day that plays completely different, you still have to play well and you have to keep winning.”
Notes: The JNT will have an off day on July 26th and get back to action on the 27th against Panama at Port Arthur Stadium with the first pitch at 7pm ET. …The JNT smacked out 11 hits against Korea. …For live scores, stats and standings of the 2010 World Junior Baseball Championships please visit: http://www.scorekeepers.org/tornei/2010/canada/schedule.php . … Fans can also receive wall-to-wall coverage of the tournament by visiting: http://www.slnsports.com/world-juniors
The 2010 IBAF World Junior (18U) Baseball Championship will host national teams from Australia, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Korea, Netherlands, Panama, Venezuela and the United States. Teams will begin qualifying games on July 23rd and the tournament will culminate in the Gold Medal game on August 1st at the Port Arthur Stadium in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. Visit the website at www.worldbaseball2010.com. For tickets, please call Toll Free 1-877-422-3201.