For half an inning on Friday morning, it looked as though New Brunswick might pick up its first win of the 2009 Canada Cup.
Playing a stronger Québec squad for the second time, the team scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a 5-3 lead, the first time all week the New Brunswickers were on top of a game.
But the Québeckers came roaring back with six runs in the top of the sixth en route to a 10-5 win, their second of the tournament. Québec now sits at 2-2, third in Pool A behind British Columbia and Ontario, both 3-1.
“As soon as they took the lead 5-3, the guys were very nervous,” said Québec head coach Sylvain Saindon. “We knew we were a stronger team, but on the field when you have only two innings to go, you’re pretty nervous. I talked to them to maintain that we have to stay focused and especially because New Brunswick never played with the lead in the tournament (so far), so they will be very nervous the first time they got the lead. This was the first time in the tournament they could win. That changes your mindset a little bit. That’s what I said to my kids between innings.”
With one out in the bottom of the fifth, New Brunswick tied the game on a wild throw to first base. A wild pitch to the next batter allowed them to score the go-ahead run. Next, reliever Shawn Reid’s ground ball took a high hop past Québec shortstop Derek Legault to score a fifth run.
In the top of the sixth, an error by New Brunswick shortstop Adam Clark on an attempted 3-6-3 double play scored a run, followed by a bunt that loaded the bases. Next, Mickael Tetreault walked to tie the game.
Simon Brisebois then stepped up with a bases-clearing double to deep left field, and the Québeckers never looked back.
With Ontario beating B.C. in extra innings earlier Friday morning, Québec has a chance to square up with B.C. in the standings with a victory over them this afternoon at Flanagan Park. Saindon said a lack of firepower was the main reason behind a 2-0 loss to B.C. on Wednesday, and now that the bats are connecting a little more, he expects a better result.
“We have to hit better and we should be okay. We had only three base hits in the first game,” he said. “We are in a groove about hitting right now. We have had three good games hitting and one bad game. I think we can surprise people for the rest of this tournament.”
In the Ontario-B.C. game at Flanagan Park, meanwhile, Ontario tied the game 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth on B.C.’s second balk of the morning. B.C. loaded the bases with one out in the top of the seventh, but two consecutive force plays got Ontario out of the inning.
Later, in the bottom of the eighth, a wild throw to first base set up a close play at the plate, with the Ontario runner ruled safe on a call that could have gone either way. That gave Ontario a crucial 4-3 win that ties the two teams atop the Pool A standings at 3-1.
Ontario plays New Brunswick at 4 p.m. at Berard Field.