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Canada Blanks the Netherlands

BEIJING – The Canadian offence came alive and the Canadian pitchers were virtually untouchable as Canada would put one in the win column with a 4-0 victory over the Netherlands at the 2008 Olympic Summer Games.

After being blanked the previous game, Canada returned the favour today with an outstanding performance from their pitchers, combining to give up only a pair of hits and one walk, while striking out eight Dutch hitters.

“It was a more complete ballgame today,” says Olympic team Manager Terry Puhl. “That was one of our better pitching performances. (Brooks) McNiven set the stage. We put a few runs up and closed it out and played a complete ballgame.”

The aforementioned Brooks McNiven (Vernon, BC) got things started on the mound and went six strong innings, allowing only one hit with a pair of strikeouts. McNiven had a no-hitter going until Roel Koolen stroked a single in the sixth inning to break up the no-no.

“I just tried to go out there and get ahead of them,” says McNiven, who picked up the win. “The difference for me today from the game against Cuba is I was ahead and threw alot of first pitch strikes and I pitched for ground balls.”

Then, three different hurlers would finish what McNiven started as Jonathan Lockwood (Toronto, ON), Rheal Cormier (Moncton, NB) and T.J. Burton (Ottawa, ON) would each pitch an inning to help preserve the win. Lockwood struck out two while retiring the side in order in seventh. Cormier gave up a walk, but struck out Sidney de Jong and got Eugene Kingsale to ground into the double-play to end the eighth. And Burton allowed a leadoff single to Percy Isenia, but he would then strikeout the side to end the game.

“Our bullpen came in and they did good work,” says Puhl of his relievers. “Our bullpen has one of the strengths of this team in this tournament and today they proved that again.”

Offensively, Canada put some points on the board in the third inning. Matt Rogelstad (New Westminster, BC) drove in Emmanuel Garcia (Montreal, QC) on a ground out to give Canada a 1-0 lead.

The Canadians gave themselves a cushion in the fourth inning by scoring a pair of runs on a RBI triple from Emerson Frostad (Calgary, AB) and a sacrifice fly from Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) to put Canada up front 3-0.

“We were able to put guys on and cash them in today”, says Frostad, who was 2-for-4 in this game. “We played a good game and capitalized on our chances.”

A two-out RBI single from Jimmy VanOstrand (Richmond, BC) to score Mike Saunders (Victoria, BC), who had doubled, in the eighth inning completed the scoring for the Canadians, giving them a four-run lead.

Canada, who is still mathematically in the hunt for a spot in the medal round, will now look to finish strong in their final preliminary game against Chinese Taipei.

“We’re still going to go out there and take care of business,” says Matt Rogelstad, who drove in the winning run today. “We want to go out and prove that we are one of the top teams here, even though the standings may not be indicative of that, but we still want to go out and play for the country and make Canada proud.”

Canada will take on Chinese Taipei on Wednesday, August 20th at 6:00 pm, local time in Beijing. For those following in Canada, game time is at 6:00 am Eastern time on Wednesday morning.