THUNDER BAY – It turned out to be too much of a turnaround from the semi-final loss the previous night as the Junior National Team fell to Cuba 8-2 in the Bronze Medal game.
The game started out tight as neither team could score any runs through the first 4 innings. Tom Robson (Ladner, BC) was excellent on the mound during that time allowing only 2 hits while recording 3 strikeouts.
The Cubans got to Robson in the 5th in a big way when Andy Ibanez drilled a 3-run homer over the wall in right field. The blast put the Cubans on top and gave them a lead that they would hold onto for the rest of the game.
The JNT answered back in the 6th when Philip Diedrick (Ajax, ON) was hit home on an Alex Calbick (Burnaby, BC) sacrifice fly. Diedrick who has been a monster at the plate for Canada throughout the tournament went 3 for 4 on the day.
In the 7th the Cubans regained their three run lead when Yamil Rivalta hit an RBI double which would end Robson’s afternoon. Robson finished the day pitching 6 and 1/3 innings allowing 4 runs on 7 hits, walking 1 and striking out 3 batters.
The JNT closed the gap to 2 runs again in the bottom half of the 7th when Dalton Pompey (Mississauga, ON) scored on a Cuban fielding error.
Cuba dashed any hopes of a JNT comeback by scoring 1 run in the 8th inning and another 3 runs in the 9th to put the game out of reach.
The loss to Chinese Taipei in the semi-finals really deflated the JNT as they had their sights set on a gold medal. Head Coach Greg Hamilton (Ottawa, ON) admitted that it was really difficult for his club to bounce back for the Bronze Medal game less than 12 hours later.
“That’s the reality of it, that’s what makes these tournaments special and unfortunately we didn’t bounce back.”
The JNT finish the tournament in 4th place which is still an accomplishment according to Hamilton.
“When you look at some team that are behind you it’s not an embarrassment, “said Hamilton. “We can hold our heads high. We competed really well.”
Next up the Junior National Team will reconvene in Orlando for the Fall Instructional Camp at the Disney Wide World of Sports complex this October. From there a new team will be chosen to try and qualify for the next World Junior Baseball Championship scheduled for South Korea in 2012.