THUNDER BAY – Thunder Bay- Pitcher Lo Kuo Hua threw a complete game 3-hitter as the Junior National Team lost the semi-final game of the World Junior Baseball Championship to Chinese Taipei 3-1. The JNT will play for the Bronze Medal against Cuba who earlier in the day was upset by Australia in other semi-final by a score of 2-1.
The JNT had their best chance to make a comeback in the game in the 8th inning when they were down by 2 runs. Rowan Wick (North Vancouver, BC) hit a double off the wall in right field and that was followed by a Justin Atkinson (Surrey, BC) walk giving the JNT 2 runners on with nobody out. It looked as though Emmanuel Forcier (St-Hyacinthe, QC) was safe at 1st base after bunting down the 3rd base line, but he was called out, although he did advance the runners. After Alex Calbick (Burnaby, BC) struck out swinging, Brandon Dailey (Brantford, ON) kept the threat alive when he walked to load the bases. With a crowd of over 5,000 people cheering wildly, Dalton Pompey (Mississauga, ON) who has had a penchant for a clutch hit grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the frame.
Head Coach Greg Hamilton (Ottawa, ON) points to Hua (Chinese Taipei pitcher) and not being able to capitalize in the 8th as the differences in the game.
“The pitcher from Taipei didn’t give in and we didn’t get to him. We had one chance to get to him, we were close but he was outstanding.”
Evan Grills (Whitby, ON) got the nod to start the game for the JNT and was very effective through 5 innings. Grills worked his way out of trouble in the 1st inning with runners on 1st and 3rd and only 1 out. Grills was able to strike out 2 batters in a row to end the inning.
Hua was perfect through 3 innings but the JNT got to him in the 4th by scoring a run to break the scoreless draw. Calbick lead off the inning with a double and advanced to 3rd on a single by Dailey. Pompey then hit into a fielder’s choice that brought Calbick home. It would be their only run of the game.
Chinese Taipei tied the game in the 5th, with 2 out Grills gave up a single to Ou Yao Tsung who later stole 2nd base. Tsung was singled home by the next batter Lin Tzu Wei.
Mike Ellis (Surrey, BC) replaced Grills in the 6th and pitched a scoreless inning before leaving the game in the 7th after Chinese Taipei took the lead 2-1. Brian Bardis (St. Constant, QC) entered the game with a runner on 2nd and 1 out. After retiring the first batter he faced on strikes, Wei hit a single up the middle that scored the runner from 2nd to give Chinese Taipei a 3-1 lead.
The JNT’s 8th inning threat was as close as they would get to score any more runs. Hua finished his complete game with 11 strikeouts and he only gave up 3 walks and 3 hits. Brian Smith (Pickering, ON) took over from Bardis and was able to shut things down the rest of the way.
It will be a tough turnaround for the JNT as they will have an opportunity to earn a medal in the tournament when they take on Cuba for bronze.
“You’ve got two choices,” explained Hamilton. “You can mail it in, lick your wounds and it (the game) probably gets away from you. We’re playing a good team, battling for bronze and there’s nothing wrong with finishing 3rd in the world.”
Notes: The Bronze Medal game with Cuba will take place August 1st at Port Arthur Stadium at 12pm ET. …The Gold Medal game between Chinese Taipei and Australia will follow at 4:30pm. …Fans can watch both games by visiting: http://www.ibaf.org/en/article-detail.aspx?id=dcefe7cf-af1a-4891-abf3-2f25bcd59461 for details.