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2009 Baseball Canada Cup ChampionshipsDates TBA   Kindersley, Saskatchewan

Ontario survives fifth-inning scare against Quebec
August 07, 2009

The Clarion

Team Ontario rode a rollercoaster of emotions on Thursday afternoon.

After building a 6-0 lead against Quebec in the first four innings, the Ontarians watched as Quebec came all the way back with six runs in the top of the fifth.

Then, with the game forced to extras, a walk to Mark Black and a well-placed bunt by Scott Wilcox but runners on first and second. Eric Cunningham then laid down a perfect bunt down the third base line, giving third baseman Jonathan Jones no option and loading the bases with no one out.

Quebec brought their right fielder into the infield to prevent the ball getting out, but Michael Foster cranked a walkoff single to left field to win the game 7-6 for Ontario.

"I felt great," Foster said of watching the ball reach the outfield. "All the guys getting on base for me put me in the right position to hit it."

Foster had only entered the game in the sixth inning, replacing Ryan Clarke.

"It's great that the coaches have faith in me to come in like that and get a big hit," Foster said. "Regardless, the guy that they took out for me is just as good as me, they just thought I could do the job."

Ontario coach Geoff Whent said the wild turn of events Thursday is something he's come to expect at this tournament.

"It just typifies the game in the Canada Cup. Every pitch is important, no matter up or down, and that Quebec team, every time we've played them in every Canada Cup, they've always battled," said Whent. "They're scrappy, they've never taken a game for granted. And I'm just happy we pulled it out."

Ontario got out to a quick 4-0 lead, thanks largely to a three-run bomb over the right field fence by Philip Diedrick in the first inning. (Later, with Ontario pressing for the winning run in the seventh inning, Diedrick would get caught too far off first base and be picked off for the third out.) Quebec starter Simon Landry exited the game after the first, having allowed four runs on five hits and a walk.

Jose Torralba drove in Ontario's next two runs with a fielder's choice in the second and a double down the left field line in the fourth. He was named the team's game MVP.

Ontario starter Brian Smith, who had plenty of scouts in attendance to watch him, carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning. That quickly vanished, however, when Emmanuelle Forcier's one-out single to shallow centre field scored Mathieu Joly. Cedrick Vallieres, who would later pitch three innings in relief and surrender the winning run, ripped a triple to the left-centre field fence that scored two. 

Two consecutive wild throws to first base scored two more runs, making it 6-5 and marking Smith's exit in favour of Andrew Cooper. Jonathan Jones' single just inside the right field foul line then scored Mickael Tetreault to tie the game.

"It's just a simple thing that we didn't make the plays," Whent said of his team's meltdown in the fifth. "If we would have made the plays - there were probably three or four errors in that inning - none of that probably happens. Brian had a no-hitter going into that inning, so we kind of let him down defensively. Thank goodness for Andrew Cooper coming in to shut the door." 

It was a major victory for Ontario, which had entered the game tied with Quebec in Pool A at 1-1.

"It's a huge character win. These guys are going to go home feeling really good about themselves," Whent said. "In a marathon tournament like this, you need to keep building, positive, positive, positive, and that carries you into Sunday."