March 17th, 2016
Canadians rule the day as Jays and juniors get together for annual match-up
Box Score - Blue Jays 12 Canada 0
By Adam Morissette
DUNEDIN, Fla – For the second consecutive year in Dunedin, and for the fifth time in six years, the Canadian Junior National Team faced off against a split squad version of the Toronto Blue Jays for what is turning out to be a great celebration of Canadian baseball.
Prior to the game both teams posed for a photo in centerfield where members of the Junior National Team got to rub shoulders with the likes of Canadian big leaguers Russell Martin (Montréal, Que.), Michael Saunders (Victoria, BC) and Dalton Pompey (Mississauga, Ont.).
The game itself has become secondary to the overall experience that the Junior National Team players receive on a day like this.
“It’s a great opportunity for our guys to connect with professional players and in many cases Canadian professional players,” said coach Greg Hamilton. “We’re real grateful that the Blue Jays were able to do this and hopefully we can continue to build on it in the future.”
When the game did start, fittingly, it was the efforts of several Canadian players on the Jays who stole the show on the field.
The Jays started Canadian Scott Diamond (Guelph, Ont.) on the mound and he turned in a flawless performance as he struck out four while facing the minimum in two innings of work.
Diamond’s outing was just the beginning of some notable Canadian performances on the afternoon for some players who had the opportunity to showcase their abilities in front of the big league staff on a great day for Canadian baseball.
In fact, three Canadian pitchers toed the rubber for the Jays in Diamond, Tom Robson (Ladner, BC) and Shane Dawson (Drayton Valley, Alta.) and combined for seven perfect innings. Robson retired nine in a row and struck out three from the fifth to the seventh, before Dawson came in to pitch the eighth and ninth where he registered five of his six outs via the strikeout.
The Jays were led offensively by Conor Panas (Etobicoke, Ont.) who belted a solo home run in the fifth to highlight a four-run inning for the Jays and a 2-for-3 day at the plate that included three RBIs. The Jays also received offensive contributions from Mattingly Romanin (Burlington, Ont.) who belted a double and drove in a run, and Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ont.) who collected two RBI. Dalton Pompey (Mississauga, Ont.) had a 1-for-3 day at the plate, stole a base and scored a run.
For the Junior National Team, the only base runner of the game came in the third inning when Jason Willow (Victoria, BC) reached on an infield single before going on to steal second base. Relief pitcher William Sierra (Montréal, Que.) held his own against his professional counterparts as he tossed three innings and allowed one run on two hits and a walk, while striking out one batter.
The juniors’ spring training schedule continues Friday at the Walter Fuller Complex in St. Petersburg when they welcome a group of minor league prospects from the Detroit Tigers organization for a 1:05pm ET first pitch … RHP Jordan Balazovic (Mississauga, Ont.) is expected to start for the juniors … The game can be heard live by visiting radiostpete.com.