Cuba wins opener 4-1, Rain washes away Canucks 2-0 lead
*RHP Andrew Marra (La Salle, Ont.) pitched six innings allowing four runs on five hits and two walks while fanning four in a 4-1 loss to Cuba./Eddie Michels photo. July 8 -- Junior get wet again in Cuba
By Adam Morissette
Havana, Cuba -- After two days of rainouts, the Junior National Team and Cuba resumed their exhibition series with a doubleheader at historic Latinoamericano Stadium in Havana, sort of. After the Cubans took game one, 4-1 in a 7 inning contest, the second game was cancelled due to rain after three innings with the JNT in front 2-0.
“I was pleased with the overall day today,” said JNT manager Greg Hamilton (Ottawa, Ont.). “I was really hoping to get that second game in because it had the makings of a good ballgame.”
Cuba 4 JNT 1 (7 innings)
Cuba started right where they left off on Tuesday as Andy Ibanez, the second batter of the game, drilled a two-run homer to left off JNT starter Andrew Marra (LaSalle, Ont.) to put the Cubans out to a quick 2-0 lead.
“I threw a slider down low and he got it,” explained Marra. “I made my pitch, and he just whacked it out of the park.”
Marra was pitching for the first time since suffering an infection on the index finger of his pitching hand, which he says was not a big factor.
“The only pitch it had some effect on was the change-up, because of the way I hold the ball” he said.
Cuba put another run across in the second after Marra gave up a lead-off triple and later threw a wild-pitch to score the run from third.
Marra settled in until the sixth when he issued his first two walks to put runners on first and second with none out. After a fly-out, a single under third baseman Johnny Caputo’s (Toronto, Ont.) glove scored the fourth Cuban run, while the throw from left field missed the cut-off man leaving runners on the corners. Marra got himself out of trouble though as he recorded two putouts himself to end the inning and his outing.
He finished with a line of four runs on five hits, two walks and four strikeouts through six innings on the mound.
“The first inning I had trouble finding the strike zone,” added Marra. “Once I found it (strike zone) I was able to pound the zone low, and I had pretty good command of my secondary pitches.”
The Juniors got things going offensively in the sixth, when Kyle Hann (Oakville, Ont.) flared and single into centre field for his second hit of the game and advanced to second, when Brendan Hendriks’ (Cochrane, Alta.) hard hit ground ball got through the second baseman for an error. Chris Shaw (Winnipeg, Man.) then delivered a clutch, one-out single, his second hit of the game, to score Hann and the Juniors were on the scoreboard. The scoring stopped when Cuba struck out the next two batters which left two runners stranded.
Logan Seifrit (Spruce Grove, Alta.) took over for Marra to start the seventh and managed a three-up, three-down inning which included two strikeouts.
JNT 2 Cuba 0 – Game cancelled after 3 innings
With the bright lights of Latinoamericano Stadium providing a beautiful setting for baseball, and the game being shown live on Cuban National TV, the Juniors cameout of the gate with two runs in the top of the first. Kyle Hann had a bunt single and Justin Marra (Toronto, Ont.) laced a single to shortstop, while Jordan Procyshen (Calgary, Alta.) walked to load the bases with two out. Johnny Caputo then stepped to the dish and ripped a double down the left field line to score two runs. Procyshen would have scored, but the ball was trapped under then fenced and a ground rule double was enforced, leaving runners at second and third base.
The inning continued when Brandon Collins (Toronto, Ont.) walked to load the bases for a second time, but a fly-out ended the frame.
Adam Anderson (Georgetown, Ont.) made his first appearance of the series and got two quick groundouts to start the bottom of the 1st, before a single put a runner on. The runner advanced to third after a passed ball and a throwing error, but Anderson induced a comebacker to the mound to get out of trouble.
With a steady rain falling from the sky, along with thunder and lightning nearby, the game was delayed after the third inning with the Juniors ahead by two.
According to Hamilton, he was pleased with his teams start to the second game
“I thought we were playing well defensively and certainly getting a good pitching effort with Adam’s start,” he said. “He’s got a real good breaking ball that he throws for strikes, he locates his fastball and mixes in a change-up - and when you locate and mix, you’ve got a chance.”
Notes: The JNT and Cuba will play another doubleheader on Saturday (July 9th) with the first game set for 2pm ET and game two set to begin 20 minutes after the conclusion of game one … Projected starters for game 1 and 2 of the doubleheader are Jesen Dygestile-Therrien (Montréal, Que.) and Ryan Kellogg (Whitby, Ont.) respectively…Earlier in the day players, coaches and staff made a visit to the Canadian embassy in Havana … Fans can receive live scoring updates by following Baseball Canada on Twitter (www.twitter.com/baseballcanada ) ... The Cuba Summer Series is an important step in the process as the JNT will attempt to qualify for the 2012 World Junior Baseball Championship (scheduled for Seoul, South Korea) at the Americas World Junior Qualification Tournament in Cartagena, Colombia from Sept. 23-Oct. 2, 2011.