With five straight wins Canada is now the only undefeated team at the 2017 WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship in Whitehorse.
The defending champion team has clinched a spot in the championship pool of the playoffs and is guaranteed an eighth place finish or higher.
Canada scored nine straight runs in a 9-4 come-from-behind win over Australia on July 11. Once again cool heads prevailed, said Canada head coach John Stuart.
“We’re taking it one game at a time and we look at every game like we can win it,” said Stuart. “We’re confident in our hitting and our pitching, everything is falling into place. We got down 4-0 and our players were saying on the bench, ‘We’ve been here before.’ We’re a calm and patient team and there’s no panic in us whatsoever and that filters from the top all the way down to the bottom.”
Trailing by four in the bottom of the second, Canada catcher Ryan Boland cranked his team’s first grand slam of the tournament to tie the game.
Canada took the lead in the third when infielder Derek Mayson grounded to left field to score outfielder Bradley Ezekiel from second.
In a bit of déjà vu two innings later, Mayson again brought Ezekiel home with a line drive to left field to make it 6-4. Mayson is leading his team at the plate with a .545 batting average.
Infielder Mark Johnson kept the inning lucrative with a screaming line drive that sailed over the centre field wall for three more runs, and his third homer of the tournament.
“In every game it seems like it’s somebody different,” said Stuart. “Even the guys on the bench, if we put them in we know they’re going to do the job.”
Pitcher Sean Cleary, who was facing the hook after letting four runs in the second inning, went on to pitch his second full game of the championship. The Newfoundlander allowed five hits for the Aussies with 15 strikeouts.
“That wasn’t what we wanted to do early, but I’m fully confident in my teammates. We’ve certainly been there before and we’re never out of a game,” said Cleary.
“We have two big games coming up in the next couple of days, so we’re not done yet and we’ll keep on going,” he added.
“We knew that he had a bad inning and he was going to bounce back,” said Stuart.
New Zealand, Japan and Venezuela — and Argentina in Canada’s pool — are going into Wednesday with 4-1 records.
Japan lost 8-1 to New Zealand on July 10, New Zealand lost 7-3 to Venezuela on July 11, and Venezuela lost 7-0 to Japan on opening day.
New Zealand has the most titles with six — the last coming in 2013 — and was runner-up to Canada at the last championship in 2015.
“That was a couple years ago and it’s a changed team, changed venue, new event, so we can’t live on the memory of 2015,” said New Zealand head coach Mark Sorenson.
“It’s cold. I’ve got like seven layers on at the moment in the middle of summer,” he added of the tournament thus far. “It’s a lovely complex here and I’ve seen some pretty good knowledgeable fans, so it’s always good to play against good teams in a good ballpark with good crowds. We’re looking forward to the rest of the week.”
India and Turkey, playing their first worlds, as well as Great Britain, are all still searching for their first win of the tournament.
This week Canada beat South Africa 10-2, Argentina 8-3, U.S.A. 7-1 and Hong Kong 14-1. They will face the Dominican Republic today at 7 p.m., and India tomorrow at 3 p.m. to finish the round robin.
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