Panama City, Panama-It couldn’t have been scripted much better as Canada cruised to a 9-1 victory over Puerto Rico to open the 39th IBAF World Cup. Canada smashed-out eleven hits including homeruns from Jimmy Van Ostrand (Richmond, BC) and Cole Armstrong (Surrey, BC), while receiving stellar pitching and defence en route to victory.
Canada, the visiting team, jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first inning that included a two-run single from Tim Smith (Toronto, ON) and an RBI groundout from Shawn Bowman (Port Moody, BC).
“You just never know what you’re going to get playing Puerto Rico,” said Canadian Manager Ernie Whitt. What set the tone for us was scoring the three runs in the first inning.”
Andrew Albers (North Battleford, SK) provided Canada with a fantastic start on the mound, in picking up the victory, as he faced only seventeen batters through five innings of work. Albers kept his defence involved in the game as twelve Puerto Rican batters grounded out or flew out during his outing. Albers did manage two strikeouts through five innings and only allowed a base hit and two walks.
“Basically we were only looking for three innings out of Albers,” explained Whitt. “He was throwing the ball so well that we were able to keep him out there.”
In the third with two out, Jimmy Van Ostrand drilled a pitch over the left-field wall to put Canada ahead by four.
“I got a slider on a 1-2 count that he left over the middle and I was able to get a good swing on it,” said Van Ostrand who finished the day going 2-for-3 with three runs scored and three RBI.
Cole Armstrong got into the act in the sixth when he smoked a two-run homer off the foul pole in right field that gave the Canadians a commanding 6-0 lead.
Albers exited the game after the fifth, which allowed Canada’s bullpen get some work as Mike Johnson (Edmonton, AB) threw the sixth frame, Scott Richmond (Vancouver, BC) tossed the seventh and eighth innings and Dustin Molleken (Regina, SK) closed things out in the ninth.
“It was a good day for us,” commented Whitt. “Our bullpen got some work in and we got some key hits when we needed them. I’m very pleased with the effort and look forward to a tough game tomorrow with Japan.”
The game with Japan will provide the Canadians with a big challenge as Japan is normally looked upon as a baseball powerhouse. Shawn Hill (Mississauga, ON) will get the start on the mound for Canada.
“We know that Japan will be very strong fundamentally,” said Whitt. “If we can get three or four innings out of Shawn that would be great and then we can just fill it up with our bullpen.”
Notes: Game time with Japan tomorrow is at 2pm CT at Rod Carew Stadium in Panama City…The game can be followed LIVE by visiting the IBAF website (www.ibaf.org)... Follow all of the action from the 39th IBAF World Cup including schedules, stats and scores by visiting www.ibaf.org …Fans can also watch 50 games from the World Cup on the internet by visiting: www.liveibaf.tv …As always, for the latest info on Team Canada, please follow Baseball Canada on Twitter (www.twitter.com/baseballcanada) …A special congratulations goes out to long-time Senior National Team Athletic Therapist, Dave Blatz on the birth of his new daughter, Campbell.