Merritt Island, Florida – That old baseball adage “walks will kill you” just keeps proving itself right, from Mosquito baseball to the Major Leagues, and everything in-between. Four of the five runners who crossed the plate for the Ontario Blue Jays in their 5-1 victory over the iCASE Baseball Academy on Thursday reached base via a free pass. Those walks plus five balls hit in the air that could have been caught, but were not, made the difference, as the two teams matched with a total of five hits apiece.
“In my mind, pitching and defense decided this one, and the OB Jays were just a little more disciplined on the mound and generally more hungry and committed on defense,” said iCASE field manager/GM Tom Valcke.
Stephen Gade set an excellent tone to the game with three scoreless innings from the mound, allowing just a pair of harmless singles while striking out five. Ricardo Suarez took over in the fourth, walked the bases loaded followed by surrendering a pair of RBI singles, and Matt Bondy relieved to minimize the damage to four runs. After Bondy allowed a run in the fifth, Jaxon Valcke pitched a pair of shutout innings, including striking out three Blue Jays after an error, a walk and a double steal put the seventh-inning leadoff hitters into scoring position.
iCASE plated its sole run in the bottom of the seventh when Valcke led off with a slicing liner to left, advanced to third on a scorching bullet to right off the bat of Gade, and scored on Ryan Wood’s infield ground out. Matt Bondy and Ryan Wood each reached base twice, with Wood striking the furthest blow of the game, a double off the left field wall.
The loss gives iCASE a 1-2 mark with one game to go in the Spring Break training session, as a re-match with the Blue Jays is slated for Friday morning.