CHIETI, Italy – All three facets of the game continue to shine for Team Canada as they would go on to make easy work of Venezuela with a 9-2 win at the 38th Baseball World Cup.
Canada got the offence going early, putting up four runs on the board in the bottom of the second inning. Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) led off with a triple and the Canadians would load the bases on back –to-back walks from Adam Loewen (Surrey, BC) and Cole Armstrong (Surrey, BC).
Jonathan Malo (Joliette, QC) drove in the first run on a fielder’s choice when the play at the plate came in too late, allowing Lawrie to score. An infield single by Adam Stern (London, ON) drove in Loewen and Armstrong scored when Rene Tosoni (Coquitlam, BC) was hit by a pitch. Jimmy Van Ostrand (Richmond, BC) drove in the fourth run by drawing a bases loaded walk.
Loewen added to that lead in the bottom of the third when he hit a solo home run over the right field wall to give Canada a 5-0 lead.
This was more than enough for starting pitcher Matt Kniginyzky (Oakville, ON), who threw six shutout innings, allowing five hits and one walk with three strikeouts.
“I just wanted to let them put the ball in play and let the defence play behind me,” says Kniginyzky. “I fell behind a lot of the hitters, but the defence helped me out.”
“It’s great as a hitter when your pitchers throw the way that ours have the entire tournament,” says Tosoni, who was 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. “In games where we weren’t hitting as well, our pitchers kept us in the game.”
Tosoni led off the bottom of the fourth with a triple and came in to score on the RBI single by Shawn Bowman (Port Moody, BC) to increase their lead to six.
In the sixth inning, Tosoni drove in his second run of the game with a double, bringing in Stern for a 7-0 lead. Tosoni would later score to make it 8-0 when Tim Smith (Toronto, ON) hit an RBI single.
Venezuela broke the shutout in the top of the seventh when Rene Reyes hit a two-run home run off of reliever Bryan Dumesnil (Nanaimo, BC) to make to cut the lead to 8-2.
The Canadians got one of those runs back in the bottom of the eight when Bowman hit a leadoff home run to put Canada up by seven runs.
Chris Kissock (Trail, BC) pitched a perfect ninth inning to end the game and give Canada their seventh straight win in the tournament.
“Our pitching has been good, our defence has been outstanding and we’ve been getting some timely hitting,” says Team Canada Manager Ernie Whitt.
“We’ve got a young team here and the future is bright for Canadian baseball in future tournaments like the WBC or other World Cups. A lot of these guys are gaining some valuable experience.”
Despite the win, the best finish the Canadians can hope for is third after the United States defeated Puerto Rico 3-0 earlier in the evening. The World Cup final will have the winner of Group F versus the winner of Group G, and Team USA claimed the latter after their victory.
“It’s unfortunate the way (the organizing committee) designed this tournament,” says Whitt. “I mean, it could get to a point where we finish with the second best record and we can’t play for the gold medal. But in the end we came here to do the best that we can and we’re doing a really good job of that right now.”
Canada’s next game is against the Netherlands on Thursday, September 24th at 8 PM in Grosseto, Italy. To follow the 2009 IBAF Baseball World Cup live on the web, click on the following link: http://2009baseballworldcup.com/index.php?id=10