January 19th, 2020

Hat juniors eliminated, still plenty of week left at Little League World Series

By Medicine Hat News on August 14, 2019.

SCREENSHOT VIA ESPN - Mexico and Medicine Hat players shake hands after Tuesday's game at the Junior Little League World Series in Taylor, Michigan.

Medicine Hat’s run at a Junior Little League World Series title is over, but their memorable week in Michigan is far from done.

The all-stars lost 10-1 to the Latin American champs from Mexico Tuesday morning, finishing 0-2 in the tournament. The Canadian representatives will still have an exhibition game against one of the American teams Thursday or Friday, watch the rest of the tournament and fly home on Monday.

“It was very tough, but it’s cool to say I got to play those teams from around the world,” said first baseman Cade Harrison of the competition. “Pitching is really different than house league games we’re used to playing. We caught up with the guys eventually, it was just too late.”

Harrison threw one inning against Mexico, but the damage was done early. Mexico’s Jorge Lambarria crushed a two-out, two-run home run to left-centre off Hat starter Caleb Garrecht, then Samuel Juarez followed it up with a solo swat.

Medicine Hat didn’t have a hit until Waylan Watson’s bloop single into right field in the third scored Garrecht, who had reached on a dropped pop fly.

The underdogs did all they could to hang on, with Garrecht making a fantastic sliding catch in shallow centre-field in the second, though a runner tagged and scored from third on the play. In the fourth, Hat pitcher Trevin Ressler struck out Alejandro Gutierrez on a 3-2 curveball with the bases loaded to end the half-inning.

But four runs in the fifth inning and another two in the sixth ended any thoughts of a comeback.

“We told the boys you can hang with a team like that, and if you have a great game you may be within striking distance, but you’ve got to play a perfect game against them,” said Hat coach Dean Harrison. “We were a little outmatched there today with what they were throwing and hitting.

“The big difference we notice here is every team has six or seven guys who are throwing 80 miles an hour. We are not at that level of pitching yet.”

Watson, Garrecht, Kayne Olinski and Kevan Schafer had the only hits against reliever Diego Ortiz, who struck out nine in 5 1/3 innings after starter Erick Vazquez K’d two in 1 2/3 innings. Garrecht lasted an inning, Ressler four, then Koby Eskestrand, Harrison and Colbin Unreiner went the rest of the way on the mound for Canada.

Mexico had come close to beating Chinese Taipei Monday night. The Asia-Pacific champions have won the World Series title six years in a row but trailed 4-2 before earning a 7-4 win.

Mexico will play Australia today, while Puerto Rico – which beat Canada 4-0 on Sunday – faces Taipei. The World Series final is set for Sunday.

“We have hung with two of the top teams in the world,” said coach Dean Harrison. “I said don’t be ashamed of what happened here. We have not embarrassed ourselves by any means, and played with two of the favourites to win this tournament.”

In the meantime, the Hat contingent went to the Detroit Zoo Monday, will attend a Detroit Tigers-Seattle Mariners game tonight, while some of the players and their families drove to Cleveland Tuesday to watch the Indians host the Boston Red Sox.

Even hanging out by the hotel pool is fun with teams from around the world gathered in one place.

“It’s been fun, all the teams get to come together in the hotel,” said Cade Harrison. “Hanging out with them, different states around America, it’s so fun.

“We’ve been playing ping-pong, there was cornhole here. We’ve been running around, hanging out with each other.”

And, of course, wearing as much Team Canada gear as humanly possible. The highlight of the week might have been when they first donned the jerseys Saturday.

Said Cade Harrison: “That was so amazing. It was amazing. All of us were talking about it as soon as we put it on. We couldn’t believe it.”

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