WCBL Players Play in Canada-USA 18U Friendship Series
When plans were put in place for the 2021 Western Canadian Baseball League season to go ahead, many loved the idea of the All-Canadian rosters.
The opportunity allowed for teams to not only find the best college-level talent available, but also to showcase some of the best high school products coming out of Western Canada.
Many of those players grew up playing in academies, dreaming of one day playing for the nearby WCBL team.
Several of those players also used the summer to work on a few things ahead of their coming college debuts, as well as opportunities to play for the Baseball Canada Junior National Team.
JUNIOR TRAINING CAMP
The U18 training camp was held August 18-September 1 in Ajax, Ontario, under the watchful eye of Head Coach and National Teams Director Greg Hamilton.
A total of seven WCBL players were invited to the training camp, including five members of the Okotoks Dawgs Black.
Dawgs Academy is excited to announce that 5 Dawgs athletes have made the official Team Canada 18U JNT Roster for the Friendship Series vs Team USA.
— Okotoks Dawgs Academy (@DawgsAcademy) September 1, 2021
Ty Doucette (Dartmouth, NS), Matthew Grabmann (Dartmouth, NS), Max Hartman (St. Albert, AB), Carson Hindmarsh (Saskatoon, SK) and Boston Warkentin (Delta, BC) were joined by Lethbridge Bulls pitcher Anson McGorman (Parksville, BC) and Okotoks Dawgs Red hurler Conor Pote (Sherwood Park, AB).
They were among 38 athletes who took part in 14 intrasquad games, with the roster being cut down to 30 for a seven-game Friendship Series against the United States 19U National Team in Florida.
🗞️ Baseball Canada announces roster for 18U Friendship Series
🗞️ Voici l'alignement pour la Série de l'amitié de l'équipe nationale masculine junior
— Baseball Canada 🇨🇦⚾️ (@baseballcanada) September 1, 2021
“We’re extremely fortunate to be able to provide our players with an international baseball experience given the difficulties of running our program over the last 18 months,” Hamilton said in a Baseball Canada news release. “Our players will be challenged against a formidable opponent in the United States, and we look forward to the opportunity of competing and representing Canada down in Florida.”
All WCBL players who took part in the two-week training camp had memorable performances during the games.
Some tough decisions had to be made, with all but one (Pote) making the final roster.
The first game of the series was a tough one for the Canadian squad, as they fell 14-2 to their southern neighbours. Warkentin (University of Washington commit) and McGorman (Sacramento State) came on in relief appearances, striking out a total of eight batters in five-plus innings of work.
Team USA continued its strong offensive play in the second game, winning it 10-2. Starting in left field, Hartman (Washington State University) went 1-for-4 with a run scored. Doucette (Oregon State University), who played at first base, went 1-for-3. Grabmann (University of Oregon) was stellar in a relief appearance, allowing one hit while striking out three in three innings.
The score was a little closer in game three, as Canada fell 6-2. None of the WCBL players saw action in the contest.
The series shifted to Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays, for game four of the series. Hindmarsh (University of Tennessee) got the start, going three innings and allowing four hits, three runs (just one earned) and striking out three as the US went on to the 15-1 victory. Hartman went 0-for-2 with two walks while Doucette also had a walk in three at-bats.
Canada hit the win column for the first time in the Friendship Series with a 3-2 win in game five. None of the players who had WCBL experience suited up in the game.
THAT'S A W!!! 💯
— Baseball Canada Junior National Team (18U) (@BaseballCANJNT) September 7, 2021
Several of them did take to the field again in the sixth game – a 9-0 US victory. Both Hartman and Doucette went 0-for-3 at the plate while McGorman and Warkentin both pitched three innings in relief. McGorman allowed six runs on five hits while Warkentin, who has committed to the University of Washington, allowed just one hit and struck out four.
The seventh and final game of the series ended in a rain-shortened 1-1 tie.
The Western Canadian Baseball League would like to congratulate all of the young players for representing their teams and communities so well, and look forward to seeing them achieve further success in their baseball journeys.