Thunder Bay, ON (Sports Network) - They didn't get the result they wanted, but
Team Canada leaves Thunder Bay with heads held high.
Less than a day after a heartbreaking semifinal loss to Chinese Taipei, Canada
was unable to solve Cuban pitcher Eddyalb Valentin, finishing the tournament in
fourth place and ending any hopes of medalling on home soil.
Valentin (2-1) pitched five-plus innings of one-run ball while striking out
eight, and Andy Ibanez hit a three-run homer to power Cuba to an 8-2 victory
and its second straight bronze medal at the World Junior Baseball Championship.
"It's tough to lose like we did last night," said Team Canada head coach Greg
Hamilton. "You have a gold medal potentially in sight, and then you have to
bounce back 12 hours later. But that'sthe reality of it and that's what makes
these tournaments special.
"Unfortunately, we didn't bounce back."
Ibanez' blast to deep right center off Tom Robson (0-1) in the fifth broke a
scoreless tie and proved to be the difference in front of a packed house at
Port Arthur Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The five-foot-nine shortstop, who was relegated from the leadoff spot to No. 9
in the order following a 3-for-23 tournament, went 3-for-4 and gave the Cubans
the offensive jolt they had been missing after outscoring their opponents 29-1
through the first three games of the round robin.
Robson, familiar with the Cubans after blanking them for six innings during a
3-0 loss in group play, allowed seven hits and four runs over six-plus innings.
The right-hander from Ladner, B.C. retired nine of the first 10 batters he
faced and appeared to be well in control of the game, getting late movement on
his curveball and preventing Cuba from mounting any sort of substantial rally.
But after a single by Lazaro Hernandez to open the fifth, followed by a walk to
catcher Dariel Crespo, Ibanez blasted a three-run shot over the fence in right
to give Cuba a 3-0 lead that would ultimately spell the end of Canada's podium
And Valentin was a big part of it.
The 18-year-old lefty from Santiago de Cuba continued his strong showing at the
tournament, keeping a solid Canadian offense off the board for five innings
with four of his first six outs coming via strikeout.
"He bared down and got the outs when he needed to," said designated hitter
Philip Diedrick. "We should have shown a little better plate discipline but
there's nothing really you can do about it when he's making pitches."
Valentin scattered seven hits while walking three for his second victory at the
The only Canadian to tag the lefty for extra bases was none other than
Diedrick, who continued his impressive showing over the 10-day tournament.
Diedrick led off the second, fourth and sixth inning with hits, proving to
scouts he has the type of power and approach required to hit at the next level.
His single to start the sixth paved the way for Canada's first run of the game
after Alex Calbick's sacrifice fly cashed Diedrick and cut the Cubans' lead to
"He's going to be a good hitter going forward," said Hamilton of his six-foot-
one, 202-pound DH. "He's a big strong kid and he's not a one-dimensional kind
of guy. He will go the other way a little bit for you as well.
"I thought he had a real nice tournament."
The Toronto Blue Jays' 45th-round draft pick, Diedrick finished the tournament
14-for-31 (.452) with a team-leading 10 RBI after going 3-for-4 on Sunday.
Although Diedrick was disappointed in his team's result, he acknowledged the
type of impact an individual performance like that could have on his career.
"It lets you know where you compare on a world stage," said the Ajax, Ont.-
native. "In Canada, you know you're one of the top 20 players and then when you
go and play against the U.S. or other countries, you can see where you stack
Another bright spot for Canada was Burnaby, B.C.-native Calbick, who was a
staple in Hamilton's lineup after starting the tournament on the bench.
Calbick went 1-for-3 against Cuba to finish with a team-high .528 average over
"Obviously the Cubans are one of the top teams in the world," said Calbick
after the game. "We can hang with them, it just got away in the last three
The Cubans would tack on more in the seventh when, with two men on, Victor
Rivas doubled to right to score Crespo before rightfielder Rowan Wick and
second baseman Justin Atkinson teamed up on a relay to nail Ibanez at the
Cuba would add one more in the top of the eighth, following a pinch-hit double
by Gourriell and subsequent sacrifice fly by Yasiel Balaguert to extend the
lead to 5-1.
After going 4-1 through round robin play and proving their worth on the
international stage, Hamilton chalked it up to not getting it done when it
"The last two days, we didn't get timely hitting and that's what it came down
to," he said. "The clubs that we played did so, if you don't get the hit that
you need against good teams, you're not going to win."
The Sports Network