By Adam Morissette
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida – A power surge that saw the Philadelphia Phillies’ prospects squad hit two home runs was too much for the Junior National Team this afternoon as they fell, 8-4.
The juniors are now 0-3 on the spring training trip with four games remaining on the schedule.
Cesar Valero (Calgary, Alta.) belted the first home run of Junior National Team spring training and later added a single before getting hit by a pitch to reach base in all three of his plate appearances.
The juniors cut in to the Phillies lead with three runs in the fifth but couldn’t manufacture any more offence.
Top 1 – The Phillies got on the board early scoring four runs, all coming with two. Varennes, Que., native Ben Pelletier doubled off the wall in left to score one before starter Carter Morris (Vernon, B.C.) loaded the bases on a walk and hit batter before allowing a bases clearing double to left.
Bottom 1 – Cesar Valero (Calgary, Alta.) got the juniors on the board in a big way in the home half of the inning and drilled a 2-1 offering over the wall in left field for a solo home run.
Top 4 – After coming into the game in the third and working his way out of a messy situation, reliever Caden Griffin (Ottawa, Ont.) got into trouble in the fourth allowing a lead off homer before a walk and double came around to score on the second home run of the inning to put the Phillies up, 8-1.
Bottom 5 – The juniors strung together some hits in the fifth and cut into the Phillies’ lead with three runs thanks to a Denzel Clarke (Pickering, Ont.) RBI single that dropped into centre before Damiano Palmegiani (Surrey, B.C.) lined a single up the middle that cashed in a pair.
-In what has become a tradition when the Phillies travel to St. Pete to face the junior team each year, their travelling party includes longtime National Team Manager Ernie Whitt and former National Team player and coach Rob Ducey (Cambridge, Ont.).
-19-year-old Ben Pelletier who hails from Varennes, Que., was in the Phillies’ lineup and is entering his third season with the organization after they selected him in the 2016 MLB Draft.
-With the bases loaded and one out in the third, Caden Griffin (Ottawa, Ont.) came in from the bullpen to relieve Carter Morris and got a strikeout and fly out to left to leave the bases full.
-Reliever Olivier Morin-Larocque (Québec, Que.) tossed two scoreless innings allowing just one single and had one strikeout in the seventh.
-Zack McQuaid (Oshawa, Ont.) picked up right where Morin-Larocque left off tossing a perfect eighth including one strikeout and two fly outs. In the ninth, he got two quick ground outs and a line out to face the minimum over two innings of work.
The Junior National Team will be back at the Walter Fuller Complex tomorrow to face the Fort Lauderdale Stars independent squad at 1 p.m. E.T...Burnaby, B.C., native Theo Millas will get the start on the mound... Fans can listen to the contest by visiting radiostpete.com with coverage beginning at 12:50 p.m. E.T.