Team Canada outfielder Mark Johnson celebrates as he scores against U.S.A. at the 2017 WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship in Whitehorse July 9. Canada remained undefeated with a 7-1 win. (Tom Patrick/Yukon News)

Canada rallies for win over U.S.A. with big sixth inning at Softball World Championship

Canada undefeated with wins over South Africa, Argentina and U.S.A.

Good things, like winning runs, come to those who wait.

Team Canada showed patience at the plate en route to a 7-1 come-from-behind win over the U.S.A. at the 2017 WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship in Whitehorse on July 9.

Down 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth with bases loaded, Canada moved in front as the tying and winning runs were forced in on walks.

“That was an exciting game. Like I told the guys in the huddle, when we have our (No.) 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 batters coming up and they have the patience to take a walk, not try to do it all themselves — that’s the key,” said Canada head coach John Stuart.

“We used everybody on our roster and we stayed calm. I’m very proud of the guys, proud of their at-bats and the patience they had at the plate.

“That was the key for us: staying patient, staying calm.”

Canada, the defending champs are currently undefeated with a 3-0 record, beating South Africa 10-2 on July 7 and Argentina 8-3 on July 8.

The Dominican Republic, Japan and New Zealand are the other members of the 3-0 club out of the 16 teams at the 15th biennial championships. The U.S.A. now has a losing 1-2 record with a 5-1 loss to Argentina and a narrow 2-1 win over Australia.

“We’ll feeling pretty good right now,” said Canada catcher Ryan Boland. “That is definitely a tough U.S. team. We knew they were going to give us a tough game after coming off a win against Australia. We’re fortunate to get that win.

“Our bats got hot there in the sixth inning and we’re just going to live it up for the next half hour (or) hour and then refocus for tomorrow’s game.”

After American Matthew Ratliff scored on a hit from Erick Ochoa in the top of the first for a 1-0 lead, the U.S.A. kept Canada scoreless for the first five innings. Then the wheels came off for American pitcher Tony Mancha.

With bases loaded and nobody out, Mancha walked pinch hitter Blake Hunter to force in the tying run and outfielder Mark Johnson to force in the winning run.

After Mancha was yanked for Mervin Weiler, Boland drove to the centre field wall for a double, bringing in three runs.

“It was a little spinner on the outer half (of the plate),” said Boland. “It was a tough situation for the pitcher to come into after a few walks. I was looking for a spot on the outside and I was very fortunate to make contact.”

Boland leads his team with a .600 batting average and has five RBIs. Hunter and Johnson have five and four RBIs, respectively, and are leading the team in home runs with two each.

Second baseman Brandon Horn also logged an RBI in the win over the U.S.A. Devon McCullough, who pitched the first six innings, got the win.

Canada will try to maintain the win streak, which includes six at a warm-up tournament in Vancouver last week, with a game against Hong Kong on Monday at 4:30 p.m.

“I’m not too concerned with streaks or anything like that,” said Stuart. “We just have to make sure — the old cliché — we take it one game at a time.”

Canada will then face Australia on July 11 at 7 p.m., Dominican Republic on July 12 at 7 p.m., and India on July 13 at 3 p.m. to finish the round robin. The playoffs start on July 14.

“We love it here,” said Boland. “The fans are treating us well, the hotel staff is treating us well, everyone at the ball field is treating us well. It’s a great facility here in Whitehorse — one of the best facilities I’ve ever played in.”

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

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Canada infielder Derek Mayson is declared safe on third during his team’s 8-3 win over Argentina on July 8. (Tom Patrick/Yukon News)

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