U18 World Qualifier: Smith, Jean lead Canada to bronze

 The Canadian Junior National National Team captured the bronze medal with a 5-3 win over Nicaragua at at the COPABE U18 Pan Am Championships on Sunday. Photo Credit: Baseball Canada

The Canadian Junior National National Team captured the bronze medal with a 5-3 win over Nicaragua at at the COPABE U18 Pan Am Championships on Sunday. Photo Credit: Baseball Canada

By Adam Morissette

Baseball Canada

CHITRÉ, Panama – LaRon Smith (Spruce Grove, Alta.) belted a two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth to break a 3-3 tie and give Canada an eventual 5-3 win over Nicaragua to capture the bronze medal at the COPABE U18 Pan Am Championships.

With Bo Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) on second base, Smith drilled a 1-2 breaking ball over the wall in left field for his second homer of the tournament sending the Canadian dugout into a state of jubilation.

The win matches Canada’s result from 2014, the last time they participated in the COPABE event, and books a spot in the 2019 WBSC U18 Baseball World Cup.

BOX SCORE: Canada 5, Nicaragua 3

Reliever Antoine Jean (Montréal, Que.) tossed 4 2/3 scoreless innings to record the win allowing just one hit and two walks while striking out four batters.

Canada starting pitcher Ben Abram (Georgetown, Ont.) lasted until the fifth when Jean came on to pitch with one out and runner on second, and promptly got a ground out to shortstop before registering a strikeout to leave a man on base.

After both sides traded runs in the first and second innings Nicaragua took a 3-1 lead in the fourth when a base-hit to right with a runner on base saw Daniel Carinci (Ajax, Ont.) throw the relay throw out of play to score both runners.

Canada responded in the home half of the fourth getting a two-out, RBI single to right field off the bat of Blake Buckle (Milton, Ont.) before he and TJ Schofield-Sam (Brampton, Ont.) pulled off a double steal to even the score.

The Junior National Team program and preparations for the U18 World Cup will begin in March with the annual spring training trip in St. Petersburg, Fla.


Adam Morissette

Adam Morissette was born and raised in Ottawa, Ont. where sports were always a big part of his life whether it be baseball, hockey or football, including playing two seasons as centre for coach Pat Sheahan with the Queen's University Golden Gaels in Kingston -- Canada's first capital. Morissette has always have been passionate about baseball and has fond memories of attending Montreal Expos games with his father, Mike, and listening to his recollection of watching baseball in Montreal at Jarry Park and stories about Gary Carter, Rusty Staub and Steve Rodgers. Morissette could often be found in a near empty Lynx Stadium watching Joe Siddall, Bert Heffernan, Curtis Pride and Jamie Carroll soaking in a beautiful summer night at the ballpark. He was a member of the provincial championship Orleans Red Sox Little League teams also played with the Ottawa White Sox for the late Lyle Anderson and Todd Burke in OBA Midget and American Legion play and the Capital City Crushers (NCBL), primarily as a catcher. Has also spent time coaching Little League in Orleans and South Ottawa. He wanted to turn his passion into a career and enrolled in Sport Business Management at Algonquin College in Ottawa in 2007. After working for the Ottawa 67's OHL team as the Ticket Coordinator, Morissette jumped at the opportunity to become the Media and Public Relations Coordinator with Baseball Canada in 2010. He loves watching and reading about pro, college or amateur baseball and is a long-time subscriber to Baseball America. Morissette is thrilled about the idea of writing about baseball and is interested in covering any story that his car -- and time -- will allow him to cover.