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Canada comes back to avoid upset against Italy

REGGIO EMILIA, Italy – It took a grand slam from Emerson Frostad (Calgary, AB) in the bottom of the seventh to complete a comeback from a 6-3 deficit and avoid an upset with a 16-7 win over Italy at the 38th Baseball World Cup.

Canada got a measure of revenge in this game after Italy pulled off the upset win at the World Baseball Classic this past March, a fact that was not lost on Team Canada Manager Ernie Whitt.

“Believe me I was having nightmares as the game was going on thinking I never want to come back to Italy or play Italy again,” quipped Whitt.

The Italians did not waste any time putting points on the board, scoring five runs in the top of the first before Canada could register an out against starter Chris Begg (Uxbridge, ON). Mario Chiarini got it started with a three-run double after Begg gave up a double, hit a batter and a single. Begg would last one more batter before being relieved by Dustin Molleken (Regina, SK). Italy finished the top of the first with a 5-0 lead.

Canada however would respond in the bottom half of the inning when Chris Robinson (Dorchester, ON) hit a bases loaded double, bringing around all three runners to cut the lead to two.

“It was huge getting back on the board there,” says Robinson, who was 3-for-5 with five RBI. “Two runs is a lot different than five runs when you’re working from behind. I’ve seen it so many times where a team scores five runs in the first and their pitcher shuts you down and the game is basically over after an inning, so it was big to get those runs back.”

A pair of errors by the Canadians allowed the sixth Italian run to score in the top of the fifth inning to increase their lead to three.

The Canadians were running the risk of suffering a major setback before they found their offence in the bottom of the seventh. Adam Stern (London, ON) led off with a double and Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) followed with a triple to bring in Stern and make it 6-4.

Rene Tosoni (Coquitlam, BC) reached after Italian third baseman Francesco Imperiali dropped a routine infield popup to put runners on the corners and nobody out.   Jimmy Van Ostrand (Richmond, BC) drove in Lawrie with an RBI single to cut the lead to one, then after a Shawn Bowman (Port Moody, BC) single, Robinson drove in Tosoni on an RBI single to tie the game 6-6.

The bases were now loaded for Emerson Frostad who would take a 1-1 pitch deep over the right field wall for a grand slam and give Canada its first lead of the game 10-6.

“The guys got a good rally going that inning and we put few hits in a row together,” says Frostad, who was 2-for-4 with the grand slam. “Thankfully we were able to finish it off and take the lead.”

The Italians came back with a run in the top of the eighth when Jario Ramos Gizzi drove in Jack Santora with an RBI single to shrink the deficit to 10-7. 

But Canada would put the game away in the bottom of the eighth by bringing in six more runs, highlighted by a three-run double from Jonathan Malo (Joliette, QC) as Canada took a 16-7 lead.

RJ Swindle (Vancouver, BC) pitched a one-two-three ninth inning as Canada improved to 4-2 in the second round and assured themselves a spot in the third round.

“The score doesn’t indicate how the game was played. Our bullpen did a great job of shutting them down after we gave up five runs in the first, but it took us awhile to break through,” says Whitt of his team’s performance.

“We have been real good at pitching and defence, but tonight we threw some balls away and didn’t catch the ball like we should have and we are very fortunate to come out of this with a win.”

Canada concludes the second round with a matchup against Chinese Taipei on Sunday, September 20th at 8 PM in Parma, Italy. To follow the 2009 IBAF Baseball World Cup live on the web, click on the following link: