The 2014 ISF Junior Men’s World Softball Championship is one Team Canada wouldn’t mind forgetting.
Canada lost 8-7 to Mexico on Saturday to place seventh out of 10 teams for the worst finish in the country’s history at the championships.
“We were telling the boys that they know what to do now to compete at a world tournament like this,” said Canada head coach Jim Jones. “The competition level was huge and it just keeps getting better every year.”
“(Tyler) Randerson, our pitcher, he’ll be one that’s back in two years,” he added. “I said to him, ‘Tyler, you’re going to know what it takes to medal in this tournament.’ He said he does and we’ll try to build on that next time.”
The 10th edition of the championship last week in Whitehorse marked the first time Canada finished out of the top four in the 19-and-under tournament.
Canada won gold in 1993, silver in 2008 and 1989, and bronze in 2008, 2001, 1997 and 1985. Last week’s hosting team also came fourth in 2012 and in the very first junior men’s worlds in 1981.
Mexico dealt the final blow in a come-from-behind performance on Saturday.
Up 5-4 with runners on second and third, with two out in the top of the sixth, Canada intentionally walked Mexico’s catcher Heroldo Borquez to fill the bases. Mexico first baseman Daniel Durazo then knocked it out of the park for a grand slam and an 8-5 lead for his team.
“He’s the champion of the team, he’s the best batter,” said Mexico head coach Horacio Berrones, through an interpreter. “They made a mistake (walking Borquez) to make the bases full. (Durazo) already had six home runs in this tournament.”
“I’d do it again,” said Jones, of the decision to walk Borquez. “They’re No. 3 batter is their best hitter. He hit a home run against us before … When we scouted him before, we said we weren’t going to let him beat us. So we ended up pitching to the big guy and we had him bouncing out three times before that.”
Canada took a 4-3 lead in the fourth inning on a three-run shot from centre fielder Matthew Pilon – his first homer of the tournament. A Mexican outfielder got a piece of it before smacking into the fence.
“I hit the ball well, I hit it really high in the air, but I think I got a little help from the left fielder,” said Pilon. “But anytime the ball goes over the fence I’m not going to complain.”
“I think we actually played pretty well,” he added. “The grand slam (for Mexico) was a momentum killer, but we stayed in it and battled the whole game. It’s hard to be disappointed with the effort we put in today.”
Canada second baseman Tyson Zehr then put a solo shot over to put Canada up 5-3 in the fifth.
Canada’s Taylor Schubada, the team’s only returner from the 2012 championships, hit a monster two-run homer in the seventh to pull within one of Mexico.
“They were very competitive teams,” said Berrones. “That was a very strong game. They are both very strong teams, but somebody has to lose.”
Mexico went on to place sixth in an 11-5 loss to United States, who took fifth.
Canada defeated Singapore 11-1 Saturday morning to reach the game against Mexico.
“The bantam Canadian championships are in Gander, Newfoundland, and we’ll start in the middle of August, evaluating players, to come with a team that’s better than the one we had this year,” said Jones. “We fell down a little bit and I don’t know why we did. But if you look at the talent level of some of the other teams, they’re a little ahead of us now.”
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