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Canada ends World Cup first round with rout of Sweden

STOCKHOLM, Sweden – Team Canada made short work of Sweden in their first round finally, earning a five inning mercy rule win to go 3-0 and finish on top of Pool C in round one of the 38th Baseball World Cup with a 19-1 win.

The Canadians put up seven runs in the second inning and eight in the fourth inning on route to the crushing victory over the host nation.

But it was Sweden who got on the board first in the bottom of the first inning when Magnus Pilegard hit a solo home run off of Canadian starter Brooks McNiven (Vernon, BC) to give the Swedes a 1-0 lead.

McNiven would cruise after that, retiring seven straight at one point, in his four innings of work allowing three hits with two strikeouts.

“I just wanted to go out there and throw strikes, because if I started walking guys there was the potential of getting into trouble,” says McNiven. “I wanted to stay ahead and make them hit ground balls and for the most part that’s what happened.”

Sweden’s one run lead was short lived as the Canadians put up seven runs in the second innings, highlighted by Rene Tosoni’s (Coquitlam, BC) three-run triple to Canada ahead 7-1.

A two-run double from Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) and an RBI ground out by Tosoni in the third inning added three runs to make it 10-1 for Canada.

All eight runs in the fourth inning were scored off of home runs. Jimmy Van Ostrand (Richmond, BC) hit a towering two-run blast over the left field wall to make it 12-1, Adam Loewen (Surrey, BC) followed with a two-run shot of his own to make it 14-1, and Tim Smith (Toronto, ON) put the exclamation point in the inning with a grand slam to straight away centre field to give the Canadians a 17 run advantage.

“It was a great team effort and, I mean, hitting is contagious,” says Smith who was 3-for-3 with the grand slam and three runs scored. “We were just able to keep it rolling all through the lineup.”

Smith, Tosoni and Jonathan Malo (Joliette, QC) all had three hits in this game. Lawrie, Van Ostrand, Emerson Frostad (Calgary, AB) and Chris Robinson (Dorchester, ON) all contributed two hits each.

Canada scored their 19th run in the fifth when Robinson came in to score on Tosoni’s fifth RBI of the day.

Dustin Molleken (Regina, SK) made quick work of Sweden in the bottom of the fifth, pitching a one-two-three inning to complete the mercy rule victory.

“It’ll be nice to keep swinging the bats the way we’ve been doing,” says Team Canada Manager Ernie Whitt about keeping the momentum for the second round. “It’s looking to be a tough pool and we’re going to see some better pitching, but we knew coming in that we had to swing the bats to win and hopefully that’s what we’ll continue to do.”

Canada now enters the second round in Italy with what’s shaping up to be a strong bracket as Australia, Japan, Mexico and the United States will be among the teams in Group G with the Canadians.

Canada makes their way to Italy on Sunday, September 13th and play their first game of the second round later that day. Their first opponent will be the United States, who finished second in Pool E in Germany. Game time is 8 PM in Reggio Emilla, Italy. To follow the 2009 IBAF Baseball World Cup live on the web, click on the following link: