GROSSETO, Italy – Shawn Bowman’s (Port Moody, BC) two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh put Canada on top for the first time in the game, which is where they would stay on route to a 11-5 win over the Netherlands at the 38th Baseball World Cup.
With the win, combined with Australia losing to Venezuela by a score of 9-4, Canada has earned a berth in the bronze medal game on Saturday in Grosseto. This also assures that Canada will earn its best finish in the history of the World Cup tournament.
“It’s a real good feeling knowing we’re going to play for a medal. It would be a shame to put this team in a fifth-sixth place game,” says Bowman, who was 2-for-4 with the home run. “We deserve to be in the third place game, and we’re going to come out and try to win that medal.”
“The great thing about this team is that it’s not just one guy contributing,” says Team Canada Manager Ernie Whitt. “It’s an accumulation of every guy. Everyone has contributed in some fashion, whether it’s laying down a sac bunt, or working walks. They’re grinding out their at-bats and that’s what we want to see.”
It was the Netherlands who opened the scoring in the top of the second inning. Sidney de Jong and Curt Smith led off the inning with back-to-back singles against Canadian starter Brooks McNiven (Vernon, BC). After being sacrificed over by Bryan Englehardt, Sharlon Schoop drove in de Jong on a ground out for a 1-0 lead.
Hainley Statia then drove in a pair of runs with a double and Eugene Kinglsale closed out the scoring in the inning with an RBI single to put Netherlands ahead 4-0.
The Canadians would cut the lead in half in the bottom of the third when Jonathan Malo (Joliette, QC) hit a two-run home run to make it 4-2.
McNiven allowed a leadoff walk and a single to start the fifth, which would end his night. Dustin Molleken (Regina, SK) came in relief and allowed one inherited runner to score which put the Dutch ahead by three.
McNiven would allow five runs on six hits and one walk over four plus innings of work. He would also register three strikeouts.
But the Canadian offence would respond in the sixth when Adam Loewen (Surrey, BC) hit a two-run single to bring in Bowman and Jimmy Van Ostrand (Richmond, BC) to cut the deficit to one.
Then in the seventh, Bowman would give Canada the lead with a two-run shot over the left field wall against Dutch reliever Arshwin Asjes for a 6-5 advantage.
“Even down four or five runs there is no sense of urgency or no sense of panic,” says Bowman. “We are so confident in our offence and our pitching that we know at some point in the game there are going to be runners in scoring position and that we’ll get the job done.”
The Canadians put the game out of reach in the eighth by sending ten batters and scoring five runs for an 11-5 lead. Loewen hit an RBI double, Van Ostrand chipped in with an RBI single and a fielder’s choice, a bases loaded walk and a hit by pitch with the bases loaded brought in the other runs.
“We knew coming in that we control our own destiny,” says Whitt. “But it is disappointing that we are playing such great baseball and can’t come away with the championship.”
“It is such a grind,” adds Whitt of the scheduling of the event. “You’re traveling three hours on the bus, going to venues you’ve never played at before, playing against teams you’ve never played against. You know everyone is tired, but they’re still grinding it out and I just can’t say enough about these kids and how they’ve responded.”
Canada will close out the third round on Friday, September 25th against Cuba in Florence, Italy. Game time is 7 PM. To follow the 2009 IBAF Baseball World Cup live on the web, click on the following link: http://2009baseballworldcup.com/index.php?id=10