Regensburg, Germany-Jimmy Van Ostrand (Richmond, BC) belted a two-run homer as part of an eight run seventh inning and Shawn Hill (Georgetown, ON) pitched 5 2/3 innings on the mound, only giving up one run, as Canada opened the World Baseball Classic Qualifier with a convincing 11-1 mercy-rule victory over Great Britain.
Canada led 3-1 heading to the bottom of the seventh before exploding for eight runs to end the game which came on a two-run triple by Tyson Gillies (Vancouver, BC).
“They (Great Britain) threw a couple of tough pitchers at us and were able to keep us in check for a long time, “said Canadian Manager Ernie Whitt. “We came through and got some big hits and we had a guy on the mound that shut them down.”
Whitt was referring to starter Shawn Hill who turned in a masterful performance with his only blemish coming in the top of the sixth when he left a slider up to Great Britain’s Albert Cartwright who homered over the wall in left field.
“I mainly tried to attack with fastballs and mix in some other stuff on the second and third time around,” said Hill. “I didn’t try and do anything too fancy.”
Hill struck out seven Great Britain batters, while only giving up three hits.
Canada struck early in the bottom of the first off Great Britain starter Chris Reed with two runs where Chris Robinson (Dorchester, ON) advanced to third on a single from Tim Smith (Toronto, ON) and later scored on a wild-pitch.
Robinson was fortunate to be on third after making a risky base-running move where he was able to avoid the tag at third base on the throw from the outfield.
“It was one of those plays where you say good play, but never do it again,” he said. “Normally I’d be out (on that play) just on principle.”
Smith later scored on an RBI ground out from Jimmy Van Ostrand to give Canada an early 2-0 lead.
The score remained 2-0 until Adam Loewen (Surrey, BC) came through with a clutch, two-out RBI double in the fifth that scored Van Ostrand all the way from third base.
After Cartwright led-off the sixth with a home run, Hill got a ground-out and strikeout before being removed for Chris Kissock (Trail, BC) who got a fly-out to centerfield to end the inning.
Kissock got a groundout and a double-play after giving up a single to end the top of the seventh which set the stage for the eight-run outburst in the bottom of the inning.
Tyson Gillies started things off with a double to right field and took third on a wild-pitch, while Chris Robinson was batting.
Robinson worked a lengthy at-bat , fouling pitch after pitch off before lining a single to left field that scored Gillies to make the score 4-1.
“I was able to see some pitches and just tried to battle up there,” explained Robinson. “He made a good pitch, it was a change-up down and I was able to get through it and snuck it over the third baseman’s head.”
With one out, Van Ostrand scored Robinson by belting a two-run, opposite-field homer over the wall in right-centre.
Van Ostrand gave Robinson credit for his RBI single in the seventh which sparked the Canadian offence.
“You can look to Chris’ (Robinson) at-bat for giving us some breathing room,” he said. “Hitting is contagious, it’s a lot easier to hit when you don’t feel like you have to come through.”
After a pitching change Canada continued to pour it on as Adam Loewen singled and two consecutive walks loaded the bases for Skyler Stromsmoe (Bow Island, AB) who delivered a bases clearing triple to make it 9-1.
Jonathan Malo (Jolliette, QC) reached on an error before Gillies’ triple scored two runs to end the game.
Gillies went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and a run scored.
“We don’t rely on one player in our line-up to carry us,” added Whitt. “We rely on one through nine offensively and our pitcher’s to throw strikes.
“When we do that we are successful.”
Canada will play the winner of tomorrow night’s Germany/Czech Republic match-up. If Germany wins the game will be played at 7pm local time (1pm ET) on Saturday and if the Czech Republic wins the game will be at 1pm local time (7am ET) on Saturday.
Saturday’s game, regardless of time, can be seen on Rogers Sportsnet One and on-line at: www.worldbaseballclassic.com