Regensburg, Germany-Canada is one win away from qualifying for the 2013 World Baseball Classic after an offensive surge, late in the game, propelled them to 16-7 win over Germany.
Canada hit five home runs in the game with two coming off the bat of Jimmy Van Ostrand (Richmond, BC), while Tyson Gillies (Vancouver, BC), Jordan Lennerton (Langley, BC) and Rene Tosoni (Port Coquitlam, BC) who hit a grand slam, each had one.
Canada will now face the winner of tomorrow’s Germany/Great Britain tilt on Monday with winner gaining a spot in next year’s World Baseball Classic.
Through six innings the game was deadlocked at four, before Canada struck for five runs in the top of the seventh.
“It was a battle, the score doesn’t indicate the way the game was played,” said Canadian Manager Ernie Whitt after the game. “Give Germany credit, they came out swinging the bats very well.”
Canada jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead and silenced the pro-German crowd of 4,085 in the top of the first thanks to Van Ostrand’s second home run of the tournament which turned out to be a three-run shot over the wall in left-field.
The home crowd wasn’t kept quiet for too long however as Germany responded with three runs of their own in the bottom of the second off Canadian starter James Avery (Moose Jaw, SK).
All three runs came with two out on a two-run and a one-run single.
Van Ostrand gave the Canadians the lead back in the top of the third when he led the frame off with a solo blast to left.
Canada received a tough blow at the end of the inning as Cole Armstrong (Surrey, BC) flew-out to end the inning and suffered a suspected ruptured Achilles tendon rounding first base.
The injury brings an end to the veteran catcher’s tournament.
“He didn’t want to leave the dugout which tells you how this team is made,” explained Whitt. “We’re very disappointed for Cole.”
Germany evened the score in the bottom of the third after Donald Lutz led-off with a double to left, moved to third on a sac-bunt and came around to score on a RBI groundout.
After a walk Avery was replaced by Jamie Richmond (Mississauga, ON) who threw 2 1/3 shutout innings and only gave up two hits and a walk, while striking out three.
Both teams were held scoreless for the next three innings before Gillies drilled a solo homer to right field in the top of the seventh with one out to give Canada a one-run lead.
For the second game in a row Gillies went 3-for-5 out of the lead-off spot for Canada.
“This is my first experience in international baseball and it’s exciting,” said Gillies. “We battled out there tonight; we knew it was going to be a tough game.”
Just as Canada did against Great Britain, their offence came alive in the seventh inning after a spark, which in this case turned out to be Gillies home run. The homer set-off a string of six consecutive hits, including a triple from Tim Smith (Toronto, ON), and Canada took a 9-4 lead.
Sheldon McDonald (Spruce Grove, AB) had replaced Richmond to start the bottom of the sixth and lasted until he gave-up a one-out single in the bottom of the seventh. McDonald exited the game standing to win and gave way to RJ Swindle (Vancouver, BC) who allowed a double and single which scored two runs to bring Germany to within three.
“I like the pitchers we had lined-up coming out of the bullpen, but I was a little concerned because they hadn’t thrown in a game in some time,” said Whitt.
Swindle managed to get out of the inning on a ground-out and fly-out which gave his offence the chance to add to their lead.
With one-out in the eight, Whitt gave Jordan Lennerton an opportunity to pinch hit and he delivered a solo home run to right field to put Canada up 10-6.
Before the inning ended Adam Loewen (Surrey, BC) singled to left which brought in Tim Smith to give Canada even more breathing room.
Trystan Magnuson (Vancouver, BC) tossed a scoreless eighth and Rene Tosoni put the icing on the cake with a grand slam to right field in the top of the ninth.
When the dust settled, Canada had pounded out twenty-one hits with seven players recording multi-hit games.
Adam Loewen and Shawn Bowman (Port Moody, BC) each went 3-for-6 with one RBI.
Canada now finds itself in Monday’s final, but the team knows that in a one-shot title game anything can happen.
“Our goal coming into the tournament was to win three games and we haven’t accomplished that yet,” added Witt. “We’ll see who we play on Monday.
“We have one more game that we have to win.”
The players fully well know what is at stake in Monday’s final as well.
“We like what we’ve done so far, but if we don’t win on Monday none of this matters,” said Van Ostrand who improved his tournament average to .500 with a 4-for-6 day to go along with five RBIs. “It’s nice to come out with a win, but we’re a long way from being done.”
Monday’s game can be seen on Rogers Sportsnet One and on-line at: www.worldbaseballclassic.com beginning at 1pm ET (7pm local time).