March 13, 2023, 10:44 p.m.
PHOENIX – Drew Spencer, manager of the British World Baseball Classic, looks at Great Britain’s baseball program in terms of generations, describing the first chapter from last fall’s qualifying tournament in Regensburg, Germany, to the WBC.
A stunning second set on Monday afternoon at Chase Field saw his team beat Colombia 7-5 after an 18-8 victory over Canada, the government of mercy, earlier in the day. Toronto Blue Jays prospect Jaden Root, just 20, gave up a two-run double in the fifth inning before Chavez Young, one of the club’s former prospects, tied the game 3-3 with two runs.
Another former Blue Jays farmer, Graham Spraker, earned the win by going 2.2 scoreless innings after taking over in the fourth inning, and the Brits survived a nervous ninth inning for a victory that has the potential to reverberate across the Atlantic.
“People are going to use this moment as inspiration to play and believe that someone with this name on the front of their chest (pointing to Great Britain on the shirt) can win, not just in games. It’s like that, but he can achieve all his ambitions,” Spencer said later.
“We are going to play college baseball. It is possible to play in international leagues, playing in the best professional leagues across the country. We’ll see one in the majors soon, in my opinion.
Key hits from Young and Chavez, Seattle Mariners prospect Harry Ford’s solo homer led off a two-run seventh inning to open a 7-3 margin Columbia needed when they put up a pair in the ninth.
Young stole home as part of a late double steal against Canada and added his fourth stolen base of the game against Colombia.
The speedy, switch-hitting 25-year-old was a catalyst up front, while Root, who hit a game-tying home run in the ninth inning against Spain in Regensburg, set up an extra-inning game-winner that drew the British. . Here, it’s interesting in left field.
“Chavez Young is an absolute leader,” Spencer said. “You will see. I think the whole right side of that stadium is in the Chavez Young fan club because of the way he plays and the energy from him and the way he engages everyone around him. It is an absolute spark…
And Jaden, that kid can absolutely play. He’s already hit the biggest home run in British baseball history, or so we think to this day. But my favorite part about Jaden Root is that he is a true professional, when you want to put your faith in him. He will let you know. He said to me, just before that at-bat (in the fifth), ‘You know I can hit lefties, Coach? Do you know what I can?’ I told him, ‘I know, you’ll have a chance.’ So he took advantage of it. And I’m very proud of him.”
Root played in the Florida Complex League last year after being selected in the seventh round of the 2021 draft, while Young was traded in the off-season to the Pittsburgh Pirates for right safety Zach Thompson.
Spraker, a 31st-round pick in the 2017 draft, made it to Triple-A Buffalo with the Blue Jays but signed a minor league contract with the Tampa Bay Rays this offseason. He allowed an RBI single to Dayan Frias in the fourth after receiving a fumble from starter Tyler Visa before closing things out.
“There were definitely some issues, I didn’t get out of that first at-bat, but luckily the next two came up,” Spraker said. “After that, once I had clean innings I was ready for the ride, I stayed ahead and got as many people out as I could. I know we need it. …
“All I can say to everyone in Britain is thanks for watching. If they haven’t, I hope they are now.”