Melbourne, Florida – Under a brilliant blue sky and an ideal 22 degrees Celsius temperature, Matt Bondy, Ricardo Suarez and Stephen Gade combined for a three-hitter as the iCASE Baseball Academy edged the London Badgers 3-2 in their 2014 Spring Training opener.
The Badgers sandwiched all three hits back-to-back-to-back in the fourth inning and knotted the score 2-2 after Bondy gave up the only two hits of his 48-pitch masterful outing where he walked only one while striking out five. Suarez came in with runners on first and third, but London pulled off a daring double steal, followed by a run-scoring single to tie it up, but Suarez remained composed and retired the final batter on a deep fly to right field that Joe McCorkindale made the catch of the game in fighting the sun and wind.
Suarez, who mixed his slider and curve ball perfectly to keep the Badgers off balance, did not give up another hit and carried the tie into the seventh and final inning while striking out two and walking just one. However, his one base on balls was to the lead off hitter in the bottom of the seventh, so iCASE field manager Tom Valcke called upon Gade from the bullpen.
The lanky right-hander made an errant pick off throw to first that advanced the runner into scoring position, but then promptly struck out three consecutive Badger hitters with a power fastball that he kept down in the zone to notch the save.
iCASE plated two in the top of the first as Ryan Wood brought home lead-off hitter Colton Gill, and Suarez grounded to second to score Jaxon Valcke from third. Valcke had the game’s first base hit with a liner to left that sent Gill to third.
In the top of the sixth, following a lead-off walk to Tyler Berry, Wood drove a shot that a diving Badger third baseman corralled and fired to second to nail Berry on a force play. Wood then pulled off a key textbook delayed steal to put himself into scoring position, and Bondy drove him home with a double to the left field gap.
Yanik Leroux made a huge defensive play at third by snaring a potential run scoring single through the hole and fired to first base to end a Badger scoring threat. Colton Gill swiped four bases on the day, establishing himself of one of the premium baserunners among the dozens of high calibre teams in the state of Florida during Canada’s high school Spring Break.
iCASE, who are guests tonight of the Washington Nationals as they host the Houston Astros, next take the field on Tuesday morning versus the Edouard Montpetit Sport Etude at 11:30am at Mitchell Ellington field in Merritt Island.