GIJANG, South Korea – South Korea scored six runs in the first inning to build-up a lead that was too much to overcome as they handed Canada their first loss at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Baseball World Cup by a score of 8-5.
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Down early but refusing to throw in the towel, Canada battled hard outhitting South Korea 17-13 but ran into some tough luck and out of time in defeat.
“It’s tough, you give a team six (runs) especially a good team and it becomes an uphill battle,” said Head Coach Greg Hamilton. “We really swung the bats, we’re capable of doing that but the bounces went the other way today and that’s baseball.”
“I’m really happy with our effort today, that’s the key to these tournaments,” continued Hamilton. “You can't script it, you need to play every at bat and every inning and if you’re going to win a world championship you’re going to have to battle – I think we came together and grew as a team today.”
The first inning saw South Korea send 11 batters to the plate chasing starting pitcher Theo Millas (Burnaby, BC) from the game after the first seven batters reached on base hits.
Justin Thorsteinson (Langley, BC) came in from the bullpen with nobody out and was able to record three outs to limit the damage to six runs.
Adam Maier (North Vancouver, BC) followed Thorsteinson and kept a lid on things allowing two runs over four innings of work before turning things over to Evan O’Toole (Bridgewater, NS) and Elis Saul (Vancouver, BC) who each tossed a scoreless inning of relief.
“(Our relievers) did a great job today of settling things down which gave us a chance to get the game back in our direction,” explained Hamilton. “Theo’s an outstanding arm and we’re going to need him moving forward.”
Canada’s offence was kept off the scoreboard for five innings by South Korean starting pitcher Kangjun Lee who came up big when he needed to getting key outs with Canada threatening, but that changed in the sixth when Elijha Hammill (Oakville, ON) broke the shutout bid with a bases loaded single before a two-run double off the bat of Dasan Brown (Oakville, ON).
Brown had four hits on the game to lead Canada’s offence while TJ Schofield-Sam (Brampton, ON) and Hammill collected three apiece.
A telltale sign of Canada’s tough luck occurred in the eighth when threatening with the bases loaded and just one out when Ryan Leitch (Whitby, ON) hit an absolute rocket line drive to shortstop that was caught before a throw to second base doubled off a helpless Dasan Brown.
Canada will have to put this game in the rearview mirror quickly as a match-up with an always-competitive Australia side looms on Monday.
“They’re a scrappy team, they compete and have a lot at stake tomorrow, too,” said Hamilton. “I like our ball club, but Australia is never an easy out so we need to be ready.”
HOW TO FOLLOW
All 50 games of the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup will be streamed live at: youtube.com/wbsc.