BOLOGNA, Italy – Team Canada only put up two hits in the game, but both were extremely key as the Canadians erased a one run deficit in the bottom of the 11th inning to score two runs and take the victory over Japan by a score of 3-2 at the 38th Baseball World Cup.
The tie break format was in full effect in the top of the 11th when Ryo Saeki hit an RBI single, bringing in Tsutomu Sasaki to break a 1-1 tie and put Japan in front 2-1.
But the Canadians would start the bottom of the 11th with Adam Loewen (Surrey, BC) at second and Rene Tosoni (Coquitlam, BC) at first. Terrence Dayleg (Burnaby, BC) came in as a pinch hitter and laid down a sacrifice but to move the runners over.
The Japanese then intentionally walked Shawn Bowman (Port Moody, BC) to set up a matchup with Emerson Frostad (Calgary, AB), who was 0-for-3 going into the at-bat. Frostad would hit a shallow base hit to right that brought in Loewen for the tying run and Tosoni was being waved in behind him. The throw from right field got to the plate in plenty of time, but Tosoni ducked down and ran over Saeki at the plate, causing him to drop the ball and giving Canada the win.
“It wasn’t hit really deep to right field so I knew it was going to be a bang-bang play, and all I needed to do was get the ball out of the catcher’s hands because it was the winning run so I definitely wanted to do anything I could,” says Tosoni about scoring the winning run.
“Their pitchers did a great job and our pitchers were great and were able to keep us in the ballgame,” says Frostad. “Being the home team we knew those were the winning runs right there and we had a lot of confidence with our pitchers tonight and we felt it was just a matter of time before our offence would come up big.”
For the first ten innings of this game, the Canadians had no answer for the Japanese hurlers. Combined, starter Atsui Tanaka, Hirofumi Yamanaka and Takashi Saito struck out 18 Canadian hitters and held them to only one hit.
Japan got on the board first in the third inning. Shoh Aranami led off the frame with a base hit off of Canadian starter Matt Kniginyzky (Oakville, ON). An error on a pick-off attempt by Kniginyzky allowed Aranami to move up to third, then a ground out from Yoshinobu Kotegawa drove in the first run of the game.
Canada finally got some offence going in the bottom of the sixth. Loewen led off with a walk and was sacrificed over to second by Jonathan Malo (Joliette, QC). After Adam Stern (London, ON) struck out for the second out, Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) got Canada’s first hit of the game and drove in Loewen, who collided with starting catcher Go Tamaoka at the plate, to tie the game 1-1.
Both teams were unable to push any more runs across in regulation, setting up the dramatics in extra innings when Loewen and Tosoni both score on the Canadians second hit of the ball game.
“I’m not happy that we only got two hits, but both hits drove in runs,” says Team Canada Manager Ernie Whitt. “Japan pitched great and played great defence, but they didn’t hit and we were able to stay in the game.”
“This was the whole tournament right there,” adds Frostad. “We lose this game; we would need a lot of help (to advance). This way we keep it in our own hands and this was a huge win.”
With the win, Canada improves their record to 2-2 which is good for fourth in Group G at the moment, and puts them in good position to move on to the third round with games against Netherland Antilles, Italy and Chinese Taipei still to come.
“Tomorrow night is a manager’s worst nightmare,” says Whitt. “We beat the Antilles in Sweden and mercied them and it is my job to keep these guys motivated and not let them take these guys too lightly.”
Canada now takes on Netherlands Antilles on Friday, September 18th in Godo, Italy. Game time is 8 PM, local time. To follow the 2009 IBAF Baseball World Cup live on the web, click on the following link: http://2009baseballworldcup.com/index.php?id=10