Cary, North Carolina-Team USA scored runs in the first and second inning for all the offence they would need as they went on to defeat Canada 2-1. The loss was the final tune-up game before the IBAF World Cup which gets underway on October 2nd in Panama with Canada opening up against Puerto Rico.
“I was very happy with our pitching today which has been very good through these exhibition games,” said Canadian Manager Ernie Whitt. “I think this is the best we have competed against Team USA and we’re going into the World Cup knowing that we can compete against one of the top teams.”
Team USA took an early lead on Canada when Brett Jackson scored from third base on a sacrifice fly. They would add to their lead in the second inning when a run scored from second base on a single to centre field.
Canadian starter Kyle Lotzkar (Delta, BC) settled in during the third inning and finished his outing by going three innings, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk, while striking out two batters.
Lotzkar gave way to Mark Hardy (Campbell River, BC) in the fourth who was solid in his Senior National Team debut.
“He fills-up the strike zone,” commented Whitt when reflecting on Hardy’s outing. “I think he threw 40 pitches and we didn’t want him going over 50, so he was successful in doing that.”
Hardy tossed three innings and allowed only one hit while fanning four American batters.
After being held hitless through four innings, Skyler Stromsmoe (Bow Island, AB) reached on a single to centre in the fourth, but was left stranded. According to Whitt the offence is something that will eventually come around.
“We’d like to see more offence, but I think that will come,” he said. “You’ve got to remember our hitters have been off (playing) for a few weeks and it’s always the pitchers being ahead of the hitters at this point in time.”
Canada did account for its only run in the fifth when Jonathan Malo’s (Joliette, QC) infield single with the bases loaded scored Jamie Romak (London, ON) from third base. Romak, along with Brock Kjeldgaard (London, ON) and Cole Armstrong (Surrey, BC) had previously walked to load the bases.
In the sixth, Shawn Bowman almost tied the game with one swing of the bat, but his hit to the deepest part of the park in centerfield hit the wall for a double. Bowman’s double came with two out and he was left standing on second base.
Scott Richmond (Vancouver, BC) and Chris Kissock (Trail, BC) both made their second appearances of exhibition play and threw scoreless frames in the seventh and eighth respectively. Kissock had two strikeouts in his lone inning of work.
The ninth saw both teams utilize the international extra inning rule, where you begin the inning with runners on first and second base. Neither team was able to put across any additional runs.
Heading into the World Cup opener on Sunday, Whitt is very pleased with what he has seen during the past three days of tune-up games.
“Once the tournament starts the adrenaline will kick in a bit more,” he said. “I like the camaraderie I’ve seen with the guys so far. This team is going to grow as the guys get to know one another better. I think this is one of the better teams we’ve put together.”
Notes: Canada will leave for Panama on Friday before having a practice day on Saturday…Canada kicks off play in the 39th IBAF World Cup on Sunday (Oct.2) with a 2pm game against Puerto Rico…Fans will remember that Canada defeated Puerto Rico to claim the Bronze Medal at 2009 IBAF World Cup in Italy…Fans can follow all of the action from the IBAF World Cup LIVE by visiting www.ibaf.org …To view Canada’s complete schedule, including the Pan Am Games October 19-26 in Lagos de Mareno, Mexico, please click HERE