Blue Jays have big day vs. Canadian juniors

Blue Jays have big day vs. Canadian juniors

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Veteran left-hander Scott Diamond tossed two scoreless innings and Ezequiel Carrera had an RBI triple as the Blue Jays defeated the Canadian Junior Team, 12-0, in a game that was much more about the overall experience than the final score.

Canada's Under-19 team makes an annual trip to Spring Training every March, and the most important date on the calendar is always the matchup against Toronto. It's an opportunity for the next generation of Canadian baseball players to compete in a profesional setting against some of the players they've always looked up to.

The Blue Jays fielded a roster that featured its homegrown talent, with outfielder Michael Saunders, catcher Russell Martin and outfielder Dalton Pompey all making appearances. Toronto also allowed some of its Canadian Minor Leaguers to participate, including Tom Robson, Sean Ratcliffe, Jordan Romano, Mike Reeves, Connor Panas, Justin Atkinson, Mattingly Romanin and Shane Dawson.

"I was one of those kids before, so it means a lot to have this experience and to have this opportunity to come over and play against professionals," said Pompey, who is a former player with the Canadian Junior program. "It really doesn't get any better than that. I know when I played I was nervous, and every game I still get a little nervous anyways, but it's great for the kids and it's also great for Baseball Canada."

Diamond, who was born in Guelph, Ontario, struck out four and retired all six batters he faced in the start. Robson later entered and tossed a perfect three innings with three strikeouts, while lefty Wade LeBlanc surrendered the lone hit of the afternoon but struck out two over two scoreless frames.

Panas was one of the standouts on offense for Toronto as he went 2-for-3 with a double, homer, walk, three RBIs and three runs scored. Andy Burns drove in two runs, Romanin added a double and scored, and Carrera added the triple and scored a run.

Jason Willow of Victoria, British Columbia, provided the lone hit for Team Canada with a leadoff single in the third inning. He later stole second base but was stranded after LeBlanc retired the next three batters in order.

Jason Willow notches hit, steal

Up next for Blue Jays: Right-hander Aaron Sanchez will get the start when the Blue Jays host the Astros in a 1:05 p.m. ET start on Friday afternoon at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Other pitchers scheduled to appear include: Brett Cecil, Drew Storen, Steve Delabar and Randy Choate. Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey is scheduled to pitch in a Minor League game.

Watch the action live on MLB.TV.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.