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Canada drops tough one to Australia

NOVARA, Italy – A lack of timely hits and a bad bounce put Canada behind the eight ball in the second round of the 38th Baseball World Cup as Australia defeated Team Canada by a score of 5-3 in 10 innings.

The Canadians stranded nine runners in this game which saw Australian starter Adam Blackley and four relievers combine to get key outs in timely situations to hold on for the win.

“Well first off, we need to hit,” says Team Canada Manager Ernie Whitt. “Their pitcher kept us off stride. Our pitchers threw well and going into the tie breaker everyone threw the ball well, but again we have to hit.”

The Aussies were already threatening in the top of the first when leadoff hitter Nick Kimpton was hit by a pitch and Brad Harman followed with a double to put runners on second and third with nobody out. But Canadian starter Jamie Richmond (Mississauga, ON) got the next three hitters to fly out to get out of the jam without surrendering a run.

 “I just wanted to throw strikes and let them put the ball in play,” says Richmond, who allowed only two hits and struck out four over four innings. “The defence played great behind me. That allowed me to throw strikes and let them do what they do.”

Canada got on the board first in the bottom half of the inning when Adam Stern (London, ON) came around to score on a Shawn Bowman (Port Moody, BC) ground out to put the Canadians in front 1-0.

From there on out for Canada it was missed opportunities for Team Canada as in the second, fourth and seventh innings they had runners in scoring position and each time could not cash them in.

The Aussies were not putting many runners on base themselves, getting only six hits in the game. But with the Canadians not capitalizing on their chances, Australia was able to tie the game in the top of the fifth. Kimpton hit a single to right with Joel Naughton on second. Naughton was rounding third and right fielder Rene Tosoni’s (Coquitlam, BC) was on line, but catcher Cole Armstrong (Surrey, BC) was unable to hold on to the ball when Naughton collided with him and scored the tying run.

It remained 1-1 until the top of the ninth when Luke Hughes hit a solo home run off of Jimmy Henderson (Calgary, AB) and took a 2-1 lead going into the bottom of the ninth.

There, the Canadians did not go quietly as Tosoni hit a leadoff home run to tie the game at 2-2 and send it to extra innings.

In the tenth inning, the tie break rule came into effect as Australia started the frame with runners on first and second with nobody out. Harman sacrificed over Kimpton and James Beresford to second and third. Then Chris Snelling drove in the go ahead run on a single to put Australia ahead 3-2.

Now with two out and the bases loaded, Andy Graham hit what was seemingly a routine ground ball to short. But the ball took a bad hop over Terrence Dayleg’s (Burnaby, BC) head and two more runs came in to score for Australia, who now holds a three run lead.

In the bottom of the tenth, Canada started with Tosoni on second, Adam Loewen on first and Dayleg at the plate. After Dayleg sacrificed the runners over, Stern drove in Tosoni to make it 5-3 with two outs.

But Australian reliever Matt Williams got Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) to end the game and give Canada their second loss of the second round.

“This is upsetting. We thought for sure we would get this one,” says Tosoni, who was 3-for-4 with a home run and a double. “We just need to keep our heads up and win the next game and keep playing.”

“It’s tough to come into a tournament and lose the first two games and hang your head and say ‘you’re done with it,’” adds Whitt. “We knew coming in that we had to win at least one of the games between Australia and Mexico, and tomorrow we’ve got Mexico and it’s a must win.”

Canada now makes their way to Torino, Italy where they will take on Mexico on Tuesday, September 15th at 8 PM, local time. To follow the 2009 IBAF Baseball World Cup live on the web, click on the following link: