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Canada drops tough first matchup against USA

CARY, North Carolina – There were some very good signs of things to come for Team Canada during their first exhibition game against the United States tonight. The only negative was the end result as Canada dropped its exhibition opener 6-4.

Nick Bucci (Sarnia, ON) took to the mound for Canada and had a solid outing, allowing three runs on three hits in four innings of work. His one blip came in the bottom of the second where the U.S. scored all three of their runs against Bucci.

Tug Hulett put the U.S. on the board in the bottom of the second inning when he hit a bases loaded double to centerfield to score Terry Tiffee and Justin Smoak.  Buck Coats then followed with a sacrifice fly to center to extend the Team USA lead to 3-0.

Canada responded in the top of the third inning. Rene Tosoni (Coquitlam, BC) hit an infield single to score Jonathan Malo (Joliette, QC) from second base to cut the lead to 3-1. Then Shawn Bowman (Port Moody, BC) tied it up with a two-run double, scoring Tosoni and Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC).

“(The pitcher) went first pitch changeup, then he went fastball in. So I was thinking he would go back to the changeup away and that’s what he did,” says Bowman of his at-bat. “I was able to hit it well, luckily there were a couple guys on base and got a couple RBI.”

Bucci then cruised in the third inning and got out of a bases loaded jam in the fourth inning before calling it a day. The 19-year-old right hander felt his confidence grow as the game wore on.

“I just wanted to get my feet wet, get a feel for international competition at this level,” says Bucci. “I was able to battle for four innings today. My changeup was working today, my curveball was getting in there. I had a little trouble with my fastball command, but it’s coming around.”

The Canadians took a 4-3 lead in the top of the fourth when Adam Loewen (Surrey, BC), who was 2-for-3 in the game, drove in Chris Robinson (Dorchester, ON) on an RBI single.

The Americans however would reclaim the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning when Tiffee hit an RBI groundout to second base and Josh Kroeger singled to centerfield for the go-ahead run against Bryan Dumesnil (Nanaimo, BC), who came in relief.

Team USA pushed its final run of the game across the plate in the sixth inning on a double play for the final tally of 6-4.

Team Canada Manager Ernie Whitt was very pleased with the effort his put forth in its first game together and is very optimistic of the talent on his club.

“I’m impressed with our team and I think we’re going to be fine,” says Whitt. “We’ve got some balance in our line-up. Some guys are still nursing some injuries (from the season) and we’re giving them time to heal. I’m very impressed with our pitching. Bucci threw the ball really well and I like his intensity on the mound.”

“It’s a work in progress, but I think we’re going to be real good,” adds Whitt.

Game two of this four game exhibition series between Canada and the United States goes on Friday, September 4th at 6:30 PM ET at the USA Baseball National Training Complex.