Aguadulce, Panama-An off day on Wednesday did nothing to stop Canada’s momentum as they blanked Chinese Taipei 4-0 to earn their fourth consecutive victory in the 39th IBAF World Cup. Jamie Romak (London, ON) and Tim Smith (Toronto, ON) each hit homeruns, while four pitchers combined to shutout Taipei.
“You look at our Pool and there are two other undefeated teams (Panama and Netherlands) so every win is important,” said Canadian Manager, Ernie Whitt. “We’re getting good pitching and timely hitting and we need to continue that going forward.”
Canada took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second when Cole Armstrong (Surrey, BC) hit a towering sac-fly to right field which brought home Jimmy Van Ostrand (Richmond, BC) from third base. Earlier in the frame Van Ostrand had walked and advanced to third on a double from Shawn Bowman (Port Moody, BC).
Nick Bucci (Sarnia, ON) started for the Canadians and was very effective early on as he had four strikeouts through his first two innings pitched.
In the fourth inning with Canada still ahead by one run, Jamie Romak belted a solo homer that saw the ball land well beyond the fence in left centerfield.
Bucci continued his dominance on the mound and finished his night with five innings pitched and seven strikeouts, while only giving up two hits and a walk.
“Nick was impressive tonight,” said Whitt. “He was great, he threw the ball aggressive in the zone and that’s what we wanted him to do against this team.”
Canada tacked on two more runs in the sixth when Tim Smith blasted a two-run homer to left field. The homerun for Smith was his second in as many games and he is solidifying himself as one of the leaders of the Canadian offence.
“I had two strikes on me so I wasn’t trying for it (homerun),” explained Smith. “I just wanted to see the ball, see it deep and I was lucky enough with that approach to see the ball a little bit longer and he left it over the plate.”
After Bucci exited the game, the Canadian bullpen took over as Andrew Albers (North Battleford, SK) threw two perfect frames that included two strikeouts in the seventh inning.
Dustin Molleken (Regina, SK) came on for the eighth and picked up where Albers left off with a three-up three-down inning and veteran pitcher, Mike Johnson (Edmonton, AB) followed suit with a perfect inning of his own to preserve the victory in the ninth.
Canada’s 4-0 record has come in impressive fashion as the team has only allowed four runs, while solid defence and timely hitting have also contributed to the team’s success.
“I think our success has a lot to do with our chemistry,” added Smith. “We have a good group of guys and we have a lot fun together on and off the field. As long as we have each other’s backs I think the ball is going to keep rolling for us.”
Canada will travel back to Panama City on Friday where they will take-on host Panama who also sits at four wins and no losses. The Canadians will head into enemy territory at Rod Carew Stadium on Friday as the pro-Panamanian crowd promises to be passionate and loud in cheering for their country.
“We just have to take it one game at a time as the old saying goes,” noted Whitt. “Scott Richmond is going to start for us and we hope to get four or five innings out of him and then turn things over to our bullpen, which has been solid for us.”
Notes: 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).