April 24, 2018
JNT EXTENDED: Clarke leads juniors over Twins
By Adam Morissette
FORT MYERS, Florida – Denzel Clarke (Pickering, Ont.) drove in the go-ahead run in the top of the sixth before Tate Dearing (White Rock, B.C.) and Viktor Bergeron (Terrebonne, Que.) combined to shut the door as the Junior National Team defeated a prospects squad from the Minnesota Twins organization, 4-3.
Clarke enjoyed a 2-for-3 day at the plate with a double and a run scored.
Bergeron faced some adversity in the ninth walking the bases loaded with just one out but managed a pair of fly outs to earn the save.
- The juniors came out swinging in the top of the first with Denzel Clarke and TJ Schofield-Sam (Brampton, Ont.) each recording singles off Junior National Team alum Jordan Balazovic (Mississauga, Ont.) before a walk to Cesar Valero (Calgary, Alta.) loaded the bases. Noah Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) then lifted a fly ball to centre that allowed Clarke to tag and score from third before Damiano Palmegiani (Surrey, B.C.) followed with a line single to left that scored Schofield-Sam.
- The hits kept coming in the second as Owen Diodati (Niagara Falls, Ont.) smacked a lead off double to right and LaRon Smith (Spruce Grove, Alta.) followed win an RBI single that put the junior up by three.
- After a scoreless first, starter Braden Halladay (Odessa, Fla., born in Toronto) ran into trouble in the second, issuing a one-out walk before the Twins strung together three consecutive base hits that brought in a pair of runs and added the tying run on a single to right field.
- Denzel Clarke came to the plate with two on a nobody out in the sixth and promptly delivered a double to centre that brought in Dasan Brown (Oakville, Ont.) with the go ahead run.
- Reliever Jaden Griffin (Lower Sackville, N.S.) was exceptional on the mound working two and one-third innings of scoreless baseball. Griffin entered the game with two out in the third and proceeded to retire seven batters in a row including a pair of strikeouts.
-Tate Dearing worked his way out of trouble in the seventh as he loaded the bases thanks to two walks but got a fly out to centre to end the threat.
- Offensively, seven different Junior National Team batters recorded hits including Denzel Clarke who was a catalyst atop the batting order with a 2-for-3 day at the plate that included driving in the eventual game-winning run.
- The Twins did not go away without making things interesting in the bottom of the ninth as they used a single and a pair of Bergeron walks to load the bases but came away empty handed.
The Junior National Team will be back at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches tomorrow and face a prospects squad from the Houston Astros organization at Noon E.T....RHP Eric Cerantola (Oakville, Ont.) is scheduled to start on the mound and be followed by RHP Ben Abram (Georgetown, Ont.) and RHP Zack McQuaid (Oshawa, Ont.).