Walk-off Grand Slam Lifts Canada Over Panama
Saturday, September 2, 2006
Cardiack Canucks Comeback Again
Havana, Cuba - Jeremy Ware's (Guelph, Ont.) pinch-hit grand slam homerun in the bottom of the ninth inning, yesterday, capped off Baseball Canada's third comeback win of the Americas Olympic Qualifier as the team scored 11 times in the final two innings to beat Panama 15-12 at Santiago Mederos Stadium.
Ware's heroics were a result of the final roster move in a game that saw Canadian skipper Terry Puhl make some of the boldest managerial moves anyone will ever see in a ball game.
After going down 6-0 and 9-4, Kevin Nicholson (Vancouver, B.C.) drilled a two-run shot over the right field wall to cut the Panamanian lead down to three runs at 9-6. With two men retired in the inning, Pierre-Luc Laforest (Hull, Qué.) was hit by a pitch and Emerson Frostad singled to left. Starting catcher David Corrente, who was hitting sixth in the lineup was slated to come to the plate already having gone 4-for-4 in the game up to that point.
However, Puhl elected to bring the left-handed hitting Reed Eastley (Brandon, Manitoba) into the game to face the right-handed Panamanian reliever Jorge Cortes. Eastley crushed the first pitch he saw from Cortes deep to right-centre field for a three run homerun to tie the game at 9-9 going into the final inning.
Canadian closer T.J. Burton (Ottawa, Ont.) struggled in the final frame, allowing a lead off double to Sherman Obando, walking three of the next four batters and giving up a base hit up the middle to Adolfo Rivera to give Panama what seemed to be a comfortable 12-9 lead going into the bottom of the ninth.
But as opposing teams are quickly finding out, much to their dismay, no lead is safe against Baseball Canada´s Cardiac Canucks, who have now won two games in walk-off fashion and one in the 10th inning.
In the bottom of the ninth, Canada loaded the bases with one out, sending the Cuban fans into chants of "Ca-na-da, Ca-na-da, Ca-na-da." Stubby Clapp (Windsor, Ont.) scored on a wild pitch to make it 12-10 and Emerson "The Ice man" Frostad was a clutch performer once again, driving home Nicholson on a single to right field to make it 12-11.
The bases were loaded for Eastley, the hero of the game up to that point. But despite his three-run game-tying homerun one inning earlier Puhl pinch hit Ware for Eastley and Canada won the game in the most amazing fashion.
As a result, Canada was 6-for-6 with 7 RBI, 3 runs scored, two homeruns and a double out of the six-slot in the lineup.
The win against Panama kept alive Canada's hopes of qualifying for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
Canada's next match-up is against undefeated Cuba, Saturday at 8 p.m. EST.
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