Facing their toughest challenge yet, Team Canada (4-0) held on to a two-run lead Sunday evening at the Junior Men’s World Fast Pitch Championship, in Whitehorse. Team Canada beat New Zealand 3-1.
“I think the word out on the street is pretty accurate, New Zealand has a long fast pitch history,” said Canada head coach Tom Doucette. “In all their international competitions they rank very high … (They’re) always medal contenders.”
Canada’s three runs came at the top of the second inning. After earning three consecutive walks, Terrell Walker drove home Devon McCullough and Dylan Cunningham with a line drive to centre field. Walker then triggered a throwing error as he stole second, allowing Shane Boland to score.
New Zealand’s (3-1) lone run came in the fifth inning when Kallan Compain drilled a low ball up the middle to score Jonathan Campbell from third.
“I think we took a little bit long to adjust to his style of pitching,” said New Zealand coach Paul Stockford. “He threw a lot on the inside of the plate — threw hard down on the inside of the plate. I suppose we were just a little bit slow to react there.”
Adding pressure until the very end, New Zealand managed to get the winning run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh. However, a strikeout, a diving catch by Walker at shortstop and a groundout put the game to bed.
“I just hit my spots and hopefully they’ll hit a groundball for an easy out,” said McCullough, when asked what was going through his mind when New Zealand got the winning run to the plate in the seventh.
“And that’s what happened.”
McCullough pitched the full game and amassed 10 strikeouts.
“Obviously, it was one of the bigger games of the early part of the tournament. But there’s lots of tournament to go,” said Stockford.
In an earlier game on Sunday, Team Canada got a 12-5 win over the struggling South Africa team (0-4).
“The South African team really started to put the ball in play and good for them,” said Doucette. “When a team is down like that, as a coach, you’ve got to have confidence in your players and they scored some runs.”
Canada blanks Argentina
Forcing the game to an early close under the tournament’s 10-run mercy rule, Canada ran away with a 10-0 win over Argentina (2-2) Saturday night at the Pepsi Softball Centre in Takhini.
The game was given the hook before the top of the fifth inning, following a hit by Dennis Iron in the top of the inning that slipped past Argentina’s right fielder, leading to a three-run inside-the-park homerun.
First baseman Cory Jones helped his team into the winner’s circle with homeruns in the second and third inning.
“Cory Jones went back-to-back over the fence homeruns,” said Doucette. “And then when he came up again he was kind enough to give up his at-bats so we could put other people in the program. What a constant team player.”
Czech Republic blown
out by Canada in
After a shaky start, Team Canada settled into their first game of the tournament Friday with a 13-1 win over the Czech Republic team (0-4).
“(We) started with first-game jitters after the opening ceremony,” said Doucette. “We had problems getting the out and wound out giving up a run. (Then with) the bases loaded we came to settle down and got out of the inning.”
The first in a string of three games that had early ends because of the mercy rule, Canada pulled out of reach in the bottom of the fifth, having their best inning with six runs. With the bases loaded, Jessin Potskin ripped a grounder past Czech’s first baseman, scoring Darcy Walushka and Jones, his third and fourth RBI’s of the game.
Then after a pitching change, McCullough made the trip home on a wild pitch, bringing the score to 10-1.
The final nail in the coffin came with a three-run shot over the fence in left field by second baseman Boland.
“It was just coming after a good at bat last time and I just wanted to pull the team together and get a good hit,” said Boland, who batted two-for-three and scored in the second inning, speaking of his fourth inning homer.
“I’m proud to be on Team Canada — we’re going for the gold,” added Bolland.
Canada dealt their second three-up-three-down inning of the game in the top of the fifth to end the game.
“A little nervous, (it’s our) first time, after that we settled down,” said Canada’s pitcher Devon McCullough, who batted three-for-three and threw seven strikeouts.
“I definitely thought they could have had a few more runs but our defense was good today and it was a good game.”
“He hits good spots, he has a good change, he’s got a great mentality for a pitcher and I think I’ll keep him,” said Doucetter of McCullough with a laugh.
Australia 15, Botswana 0; New Zealand 20, Denmark 2; Venezuela 11, South Africa 1; Mexico 9, Argentina 7; Canada 13, Czech Republic 1; Japan 4, United States 2
New Zealand 7, Venezuela 4; Japan 13, South Africa 1; Argentina 14, Czech Republic 0; United States 7, Denmark 0; Australia 19, South Africa 0; Mexico 18, Czech Republic 11; Venezuela 5, Botswana 2; Japan 23, Denmark 0; Canada 10, Argentina 0
Mexico 12, Botswana 1; Canada 12, South Africa 5; Venezuela 15, Argentina 12; New Zealand 15, Botswana 1; Australia 6, Japan 1; Denmark
9, Czech Republic 2; South Africa 10, United States 2; Venezuela 20, Mexico 9; Canada 3, New Zealand 1