GROSSETO, Italy – Canada has made history at the 38th Baseball World Cup, capturing the bronze medal, its first medal in the tournament’s history with a 6-2 victory over Puerto Rico.
“They never quit,” says Team Canada Manager Ernie Whitt. “They deserve all the credit. With two and half, three hour bus trips every day, it was just a grind. But no one complained and they came out and played hard.”
The Canadians came out with a fury in the top of the first as Shawn Bowman (Port Moody, BC) hit an RBI single to bring in Adam Stern (London, ON), who led off the inning with a single, and Jimmy Van Ostrand (Richmond, BC) hit a sacrifice fly to bring in Rene Tosoni (Coquitlam, BC) to take a 2-0 lead. Tim Smith (Toronto, ON) would then drive in Bowman with an RBI single to Canada an early three run lead.
Those runs would prove to be important as Puerto Rico cut the lead to one on one swing of the bat as Jose Valentin hit a two-run home run off of Canadian starter Jamie Richmond (Mississauga, ON) to make it 3-2.
But that would be the only blip on the radar for Richmond who threw four solid innings, allowing two runs on three hits with a walk while striking out three.
“It always helps when you start with a three run lead,” says Richmond. “I knew the offence would come through and our defence has been awesome all tournament, so I felt really comfortable out there.”
Canada would hold on to that one-run lead until getting some breathing room in the top of the eighth when Jonathan Malo (Joliette, QC) hit an RBI triple to drive in Adam Loewen (Surrey, BC) and put Canada up by two.
Then in the top of the ninth, Team Canada took the wind out of the sails of Puerto Rico when Van Ostrand hit a two-run home run to give the Canadians a 6-2 lead.
“This is something we’ve been doing all tournament. We’ve playing well and getting leads late, and we’ve done a really good job at finishing games,” says Van Ostrand, who was 1-for-3 with three RBI in the bronze medal game. “It just goes to show that we just keep on battling and we play the whole game.”
Jimmy Henderson (Calgary, AB) came in to close it out in the bottom of the ninth, and after allowing a leadoff single, he shut the door on Puerto Rico, getting Irving Falu to fly out to center for the final out as Team Canada stormed the field in celebration.
“I’m so happy. The team we had here, the group of guys, you know I feel like we deserved it and we played so good. We felt that we were one of the best teams here since the get go,” says team veteran Adam Stern of earning a bronze medal.
“I’m kinda speechless. Obviously this is what we came here to do. Obviously we came here for the gold, but to win a bronze medal is indescribable and it’s a type of joy I’ve never had with this team before,” says another veteran, Chris Begg. “This is pretty incredible especially with a bunch of new faces on this team, so I think baseball is looking pretty bright in Canada.”
The third place finish here at the World Cup is the Senior National Team’s highest placing since earning a bronze medal at the 1999 Pan-Am Games in Winnipeg. The medal also adds to Baseball Canada’s total, which is now 10, with two bronze and a silver for the Women’s National Team, and four bronze and one gold (1991 World Junior Championship in Brandon, Manitoba) for the Junior National Team.
Team Canada will receive its bronze medal at the closing ceremonies of the 38th Baseball World Cup, which directly follows the gold medal game between the United States and Cuba on Sunday, September 27th in Nettuno, Italy.