Canadians have Danish for dinner

Despite a slow start, getting just one run in the opening innings, Canada found its footing and ran away with a 7-0 victory over Denmark (2-7)…

Despite a slow start, getting just one run in the opening innings, Canada found its footing and ran away with a 7-0 victory over Denmark (2-7) Wednesday evening at the ISF Junior Men’s World Softball Fast Pitch Championship in Whitehorse.

Even though the team opened with a run in the first, it wasn’t until the third that Canada broke open the game.

With runners on second and third, Travis Dauvin grounded to Denmark’s second baseman to score Jessin Potskin. Dauvin got to first safely in the process. Darcy Walushka then doubled the score, ripping a grounder past the shortstop to score Joran Graham and Dauvin.

The game was truncated by the mercy rule in the top of the fifth after Canada scored three more runs in the bottom of the previous inning. Again with two on, Graham took a sinker for a ride, sending it over the centre field wall.

“I’d seen his pitches well the first two at-bats and just went up there and it was a drop-ball in the outside corner,” said Graham, of his homer — his fourth of the tournament. “I just tried to put it in centre field and lifted it up high enough to get over.”

Canada’s lethargic start to the game was the result of various circumstances.

“The velocity of pitching was different,” said Canada head coach Tom Doucette, commenting on Denmark’s pitching. “These guys were tuned into 68ish, 70-mile-per-hour pitching. This was a tad slower and the athletes had to make an adjustment.”

“I think it was the first lefty we’ve faced all week,” said Graham. “I guess it was just a different angle.

“To get the game over in five innings is huge,” added Graham, emphasizing the benefits to getting more rest between games.

Canada rolls over Mexico

In the first game of a double header Wednesday, a big first inning and a bigger fifth inning secured Canada a 15-2 win over Mexico (7-2).

“The theme for today was at-bat discipline: get back to what we do,” said Doucette. “Just swing at strikes and let the balls go.”

Canada’s first five runs came in the first inning. Shortstop Terrell Walker started the scoring, sending the first pitch of the game over the outfield. Mike Noftall then put a couple more on the board with a two-run shot. The remaining runs came on a series of base hits.

“We had a wonderful start to game,” said Doucette. “When you get that kind of start, and the athletes believe what you’re telling them is true, things work out for you.”

Perhaps feeling the start of a shift in momentum, allowing Mexico’s only runs in the third and being served a three-up-three-down inning in the fourth, Canada pulled starting pitcher Devon McCullough, who has been a top-notch performer thus far in the tournament.

“I just couldn’t find the strike-zone. I’ll go home and rest and be good for tonight,” said McCullough. “I’ve just got to be prepared and get ready for the next one.”

“Team Mexico has won games in this tournament something like 14-12. You know, they never die,” said Doucette. “So I didn’t want to create a situation where they’ll come storming back.”

McCullough was replaced by Dustin Keshane, who closed the door on Mexico in the final innings, getting five strikeouts in six outs and allowing only one hit. As is often the case with the right-hander, Keshane was most successful going up-stairs on batters.

“We compel him to balance his pitching. If he just had way, he’d just challenge batters all day with his raiser,” said Doucette of Keshane. “There’s an old adage in softball: The raise-ball for show, the drop-ball for dough. That’s a truism — trust me.”

Coming into the fifth up 8-2, Canada forced the game into mercy-rule territory when designated runner Adam Day crossed the plate on an infield grounder by Keshane. However, the highlight of the inning was a two-run monster shot by Potskin to centre field.

“I was waiting for a change-up but he threw a low strike and I hit it out of the park,” said Potskin, who batted two-for-four in the game. “My first one was my biggest, against the Czech Republic, it was left-centre field. It was a lot farther.”