BEIJING – There would be no story book ending for the Canadian Olympic Team, despite their best efforts. Canada came back to force extra-innings, but they could not hold off Chinese Taipei as the Canadians would suffer yet another one-run loss in their final preliminary game at the 2008 Olympic Summer Games by a score of 6-5 in 12 innings.
New rules installed by the IBAF for the Olympics state that after the 10th inning, the offensive team would put runners on first and second in order to try and speed up the finish. So with the game tied at 5-5 in the top of the 12th inning, with runners on first and second to start the frame, Chih-Hsien Chiang drove in the go-ahead run off of Chris Reitsma (Calgary, AB) to give Taipei a 6-5 lead.
With Matt Rogelstad (New Westminster, BC) on second and Scott Thorman (Cambridge, ON) on first to start the bottom of the 12th for Canada, Fu-Te Ni and Chih-Chia Chang combined to strikeout the side and preserve the win for Taipei.
“Well, it certainly isn’t what we baseball people are trained to compete in, but it is what it is,” says Olympic team Manager Terry Puhl of the new extra-inning format. “Do I like it? No. Nor would I like it even if we win.”
Taipei got on the board first in the top of the first inning on a sacrifice fly from Kuo-Hui Lo to give his team the early 1-0 lead.
Canada responded in the bottom half of the inning on a pair of RBI singles from Nick Weglarz (Stevensville, ON) and Thorman to give the Canadians a 2-1 advantage.
That lead was short lived as Taipei would score four runs in the top of the second inning on the strength of two home runs, a leadoff solo-shot from Chih-Sheng Lin and a two-run blast from Chun-Chang Yeh to give Taipei a 5-2 lead.
But Canada would start chipping away at that lead in the bottom of the second when Adam Stern (London, ON) led off the inning with a single and would come in to score on a pair of throwing errors on a sacrifice bunt from Emmanuel Garcia (Montreal, QC) and cut the lead to two.
Stern and Garcia would pair up again in the fourth inning when Stern hit a triple, followed by an RBI ground out by Garcia to bring the Canadians within one.
The Canadians would complete the comeback in the seventh inning when Stubby Clapp (Windsor, ON) hit a solo-home run, his first of the tournament, to tie the game 5-5.
“We played a good game and we battled back,” says Stern, who was 2-for-5 with a triple and two runs scored. “It was awesome to see Stubby hit a bomb and in the end we played good baseball to win.”
“The whole at-bat I was trying to hit the ball hard, maybe get a double, but I just got lucky and got on top of it and away she went,” says Clapp of his home run.
Although Canada was able to erase a three-run deficit to force extra innings, they were unable to carry that momentum into the extra frames and Taipei was able to capitalize in the 12th inning and end up on top.
Canada finishes their second Olympic tournament with a 2-5 record, but all five losses were by one-run which is a statement to the symmetry of the competition at the Olympic tournament.
“This was the deepest Olympic tournament, talent wise, ever,” says Clapp. “These guys know that they can compete with the best in the world and win. When you really look back at it, we were one hit away from going to the medal round, literally. It speaks volumes of this program and of these guys on this team.”
“It’s difficult to say that there is really one team that is so much better than the rest,” says Puhl. “From game one to game seven, we played some really good baseball, but it just didn’t work out. I can never say anything negative about the effort that these players have given, not only for this team but for this country. I can never ask for a better bunch of guys.”
The Canadian Olympic Team will make their way back to North America on August 24th where the players will return to their respective clubs and finish out the 2008 season. The next time the Senior National Team will get together will be for the World Baseball Classic which will take place in March, 2009.