To get a shot at a medal, Canada needs a winning streak starting today.
The host team has suffered two straight losses and is in sixth place at the 2014 ISF Junior Men’s World Softball Championship in Whitehorse. Canada (2-3) has to finish the round robin on Friday in the top four to contend for hardware this weekend.
“In order to get to the playoffs our whole team has to be hitting, getting runs in and that’s going to win us games,” said Canada outfielder Tyler Pauli.
On Wednesday, “We’re going to be ready, we have to win both games. I think we have to win the next four games in order to have a chance. So we’re going to come guns out.”
A win Tuesday evening would have put Canada a spot behind third place’s United States and Japan tied at 4-2.
However, a 5-0 shutout loss to Australia has Canada on course for the consolation rounds.
Australian pitcher Jerremyah Selu threw all seven innings, allowing just three hits with 10 strikeouts.
“I have to tip my hat to the pitcher (Selu), he pitched a fantastic game,” said Canada head coach Jim Jones. “When we had some guys in scoring position with one out and needed a clutch hit, we didn’t do it. He pitched well and there were some times that they made some great plays in the field, kept the momentum from swinging our way.
“We made three errors and we can’t make three errors. Good teams don’t give good teams five outs an inning.”
Australia scored a run in the second and opened the gap on a two-run homer from Callum Beashel in the fifth inning. The team from down under is now in fifth place with a 3-3 record.
“I thought it was closer than what the score said,” said Pauli, who got one of his team’s three hits and is second in the tournament at the plate with a .563 average.
“We had some hits but they made some nice plays. I give a lot of credit to their outfielders, they made some diving catches. A few of those hits fall in and it’s a lot closer game than it was.”
Tuesday’s game was a rematch of the 2008 final in which Australia beat Canada 2-1 for gold on the very same field.
Australia has won the championship more than any other country with four straight between 1997 and 2008.
“It’s been on the back of some pretty good pitching,” said Australia head coach Wayne Saunder. “If you have good pitching, you have a good platform to work around.
“The game has developed in Australia and has come a long way. There’s been a lot of investment and time.”
Canada lost 12-6 to second place’s New Zealand (5-1) on Monday. The Kiwis scored six runs in the fourth inning to go up 9-4.
“Yesterday we were almost embarrassed about the bunts that were made against us – we worked a lot on that today,” said Jones. “(Against Australia) I thought we played the bunts very well and took that away from them.”
Canada opened the championship with a 7-0 win over the Czech Republic on Friday, lost 7-0 to defending champs Argentina Saturday, and beat U.S.A. 9-8 in a nail-biter Sunday.
Wednesday is Canada’s turn for a double-header day, facing Mexico (2-3) in the afternoon and Denmark (1-5) in the evening.
Canada will play Japan Thursday and winless Singapore Friday to finish the round-robin.
Japan – one of the teams Canada could potentially overtake to reach the medal round – plays undefeated Argentina Wednesday.
Japan reached Day 5 with a perfect 4-0 record, but lost twice on the team’s double-header day on Tuesday, keeping the door open a little for Canada.
Argentina, who won gold in 2012 and are hoping to become the first to win twice within two years now that the championship is biennial, has not allowed a single run against with six consecutive shutouts.
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