GODO, Italy – Team Canada got off to a good start and were able to hold off a surging Team Mexico to get their first win of the second round with a 4-2 victory.
Nick Bucci (Sarnia, ON) took the ball for Canada and was outstanding going 4 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing four hits, three walks with five strikeouts.
“We needed this one for sure,” says Bucci. “We came out strong tonight, got a couple of run on the board early then we were able to shut them down for the most part.
The Canadians got on the board in the top of the first inning. Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) drove in a run on a sacrifice fly and Tim Smith (Toronto, ON) hit an RBI single to give Canada an early 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the second, things got heated up after Bucci struck out Mario Valenzuela. Some words were exchanged between the two and both benches cleared, but cooler heads would prevail.
“That’s just the way I am. I’m a little fiery, I don’t mean harm it. It’s just my intensity,” says Bucci of the second inning incident.
Canada added to their lead in the top of the fourth when Shawn Bowman (Port Moody, BC) hit an RBI single, driving in Cole Armstrong (Surrey, BC) from second base, to give the Canadians a three run lead.
Bowman was at it again in the top of the sixth inning when he hit another RBI single, this time driving in Jimmy Van Ostrand (Richmond, BC) who had doubled to lead off the inning, and put Canada in front 4-0.
“It was definitely nice to get a couple of knocks tonight, and it turned out to be at a pretty opportune time,” says Bowman, who was 2-for-4 with two RBI. “It was great to help the team out and we benefited with a big win.”
Those two runs turned out to be big as Mexico cut the lead in half in the bottom of the eighth inning when Saul Soto hit a two-run home run to left to make it 4-2.
It would stay that way going into the bottom of the ninth when Carlos Valencia led off the inning with a towering fly ball to left off of reliever Dustin Molleken (Regina, SK) which looked to be trouble for the Canadians. But left fielder Adam Loewen (Surrey, BC) made a leaping catch at the wall to take away a home run and keep it a two-run lead.
The Mexicans would put runners on first and second and two outs and the number three hitter Jesus Cota coming to the plate. But RJ Swindle (Vancouver, BC) got Cota swinging on his patented 50 mph curve ball to end the game and preserve the win for the Canadians.
“Our pitchers did a really nice job of shutting them down. They were able to make it exciting in the end, but, again, I’m very happy with our bullpen.” says Team Canada Manager Ernie Whitt.
Next up for Canada is a matchup with Japan in Bologna, Italy on Thursday, September 17th at 8 PM, local time. Matt Kniginyzky (Oakville, ON) is scheduled to start on the mound for the Canadians. To follow the 2009 IBAF Baseball World Cup live on the web, click on the following link: http://2009baseballworldcup.com/index.php?id=10