Cuba Tops Canada in Pitching Duel

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THUNDER BAY – Cuba received a bases loaded single in the top of the 8th inning, breaking a scoreless tie and went on to beat the Junior National Team 3-0 at Port Arthur Stadium. The base hit that rolled into left- field scored two runs and shifted the momentum in Cuba’s favour. Up to that point, the game had featured solid defence and spectacular pitching from both sides.

Tom Robson (Ladner, BC) got the nod for the JNT and held the Cuban batters off-balance all night by displaying command of three pitches. Robson says he fed off the energy from the crowd of over 3,000, with the majority of fans cheering for Canada.

“Naturally I was pretty pumped up with all the fans. It was a really good environment to play in.”

Robson lasted 6 innings allowing no runs, on 3 hits, striking out 4 and walking nobody. He also benefitted from some solid defence, in particular a double play turned by Jimmy Ralph (Raymond, AB) and Justin Atkinson (Surrey, BC) in the 3rd inning with nobody out. Robson promptly struck out the next batter sending the crowd into a frenzy.

“Tom threw outstanding,” said JNT Head Coach Greg Hamilton (Ottawa, ON). “He’s young and you don’t know how he’s going to handle the environment, so we’re real pleased with the effort that he gave us.”

The story of the night for the JNT offensively was not being able to cash in runners that reached base. In total the JNT left 9 on base and left the bases loaded in the 3rd inning. The JNT also had a chance to score in the 6th inning after Philip Diedrick (Ajax, ON) singled to left and Atkinson was hit by a pitch giving the JNT runner’s on 1st and 2nd with one out. Kellin Deglan (Langley, BC) stepped to the plate and lined a ball to right field that looked like it was going to drop. However, the right fielder dove, caught the ball and quickly threw to second base, doubling off Diedrick who had already rounded 3rd base.

Cuban starter Omar Luis picked-up the complete game victory allowing 5 hits, 5 walks while striking out 10.

“I thought we did a decent job at the plate, we just couldn’t get a timely hit,” added Hamilton. “You look on the other side and they basically got one timely hit. They left base-runners on too.”

The hit that Hamilton is referring to came after Robson left the game and was replaced by JNT veteran Evan Grills (Whitby, ON). Grills shut the Cubans down in the 7th inning but got into trouble in the 8th when he gave up a single and proceeded to walk the next two batters, loading the bases. The next Cuban batter hit a 1-2 pitch into left field bringing home two runs, much to the elation of the Cuban dugout.

The Cubans added an insurance run in the 9th inning, deflating the spirit of the hometown crowd.

After the game Hamilton talked about the importance of looking ahead in the tournament and not dwelling on the loss.

“That’s the challenge of international baseball,” explained Hamilton. “You have a game that hurts a bit, but you have to get back on the horse, get right back at it and be ready.”

Notes: The JNT will have a quick turn-around with an afternoon game against Korea starting at 2pm ET on July 25th. …Venezuela, who was previously reported as not participating in the tournament, has landed in Thunder Bay. The team was issued a 9-0 default loss to Australia on the first day of competition, but the rest of their games will continue as scheduled. … Fans can follow live scoring, stats and standings of the 2010 World Junior Baseball Championship’s, including all of Canada’s games by visiting: http://www.scorekeepers.org/tornei/2010/canada/schedule.php

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.

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