Cary, North Carolina- Team USA defeated Canada 3-1 in game two of exhibition play as both clubs prepare for the IBAF World Cup October 2-15 in Panama and the Pan Am Games October 19-26 in Lagos de Mareno, Mexico.
“I’m happy where we’re at right now,” said Canadian Manger Ernie Whitt. “We’re competing (well) against one of the top teams in the tournament (World Cup), so overall I’m pleased right now.”
For the second day in a row, Canada received solid pitching as five different pitchers took the mound.
“I’m very pleased with the pitching staff,” continued Whitt. “They kept us in the ball game today and we were one swing away from tying the game in the ninth.”
Nick Bucci (Sarnia, ON) started and ran into trouble in the bottom of the first as he gave up a single and walk before a diving play by shortstop Jonathan Malo (Joliette, QC) saved a run as he dove to his right and came up firing to record the second out of the inning at second base. Bucci then struck out the next batter he faced for the third out of the inning.
Canada looked primed to score early in the game but some bad luck in the second inning ended any hopes of opening the scoring. Tim Smith (Toronto, ON) led-off the inning with a line drive single to centre only to be thrown out trying to steal second base. Jamie Romak (London, ON) then singled but was quickly doubled off first base when Cole Armstrong’s (Surrey, BC) line drive was snared by the first baseman who alertly stepped on the bag for the double play.
Chris Kissock (Trail, BC) took the mound for the second and third frames and was sharp in allowing no runs to keep the game scoreless. Kissock allowed only one hit and struck out two batters in two innings of work.
Jay Johnson (Sussex Corner, NB) made his National Team debut in the fourth and allowed two runs to give Team USA a 2-0 lead. Johnson settled in for the fifth and managed to retire the side in order to end his day.
The US would add another run off pitcher Andrew Albers (North Battleford, SK), who was also making his Senior National Team debut. Albers went on to throw a scoreless seventh inning and ended his day with two strikeouts.
Veteran Dustin Molleken (Regina, SK) took the mound for the eighth and looked to be in trouble as he loaded the bases with none out. Molleken then induced an infield fly and double play to come out of the inning unscathed.
In the ninth, with one out, Marcus Knecht (Toronto, ON) hit a monstrous, solo homerun over the 400 foot sign in centre field that hit the batter’s eye mesh. The homerun was the first one hit by a Canadian in exhibition play.
“It was a fastball over the middle of the plate,” explained Knecht. “I was looking for something low and I got it.”
Skyler Stromsmoe (Bow Island, AB) then doubled to left field for his second hit of the day which brought the tying run to the plate, but Canada was unable to cash him in.
“I think we’re going to be fine,” added Whitt after the game. “I’m very happy with this team so far.”
Canada will play the US again tomorrow (1pm ET start) before flying to Panama on Friday where they will open the World Cup against Puerto Rico on October 2nd.
Notes: Tomorrow’s game can be followed LIVE by visiting www.usabaseball.com …Team Canada has been wearing their newly designed uniforms from Under Armour for the past two days…To view Team Canada’s schedule click HERE