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Comeback falls short as Canada falls 6-5 to USA

CARY, North Carolina – Another early start offensively for the Americans gave them just enough breathing room to hold off a surging Team Canada late for a 6-5 win in the third game of this exhibition series.

With the United States holding on to a 6-5 lead in the top of the ninth, Jonathan Malo (Joliette, QC) led off the inning with a single and was sacrificed over to second by Terrence Dayleg (Burnaby, BC), putting the tying run in scoring position. 

After Malo moved to third on a Chris Robinson (Dorchester, ON) ground out, Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) stroked a hard hit ball to left field, but defensive replacement Jon Weber made a spectacular running catch to end the game and preserve the win for the U.S.

“It’s awfully tough when you fall behind like we have the last two nights,” says Manager Ernie Whitt, “but we were able to battle back and that shows character, which is a good sign.”

The Americans were able to take advantage of another Canadian starter who had not pitched in a while early in the game. This time it was Chris Begg (Uxbridge, ON) who was on the mound for the first time in seven months.

A sacrifice fly by Justin Smoak and then a double, single, double by Ike Davis, Terry Tiffee and Pedro Alverez produced three runs for the U.S. in the first inning off Begg for an early 3-0 lead.

Lucas May hit a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the second to put the U.S. in front 4-0. Then a pair of RBI singles from Tiffee and Josh Kroeger in the third made it 6-0.

Begg would last three innings and gave up six runs on nine hits. The 29-year-old right hander took his first outing in seven months with a grain of salt.

“I thought I was making good pitches and had good movement on the ball. I didn’t have as much (speed) on it as would’ve liked but for the most part it was ok,” says Begg.

“I was able to locate pitches and worked ahead. I didn’t walk anybody. The home run was a mistake pitch that should’ve been hit out of the ball park. All in all it was alright and hopefully I’ll be ready for the next start.”

These quick starts by the Americans the last two games can be partially blamed on the rust of the starters. Brooks McNiven (Vernon, BC) gave up seven runs over four innings last night in his first outing in over six weeks and then Begg tonight, but Whitt is adamant that it will all change once they head over to Europe.

“They’re getting their work in and that’s the beauty of having this exhibition series,” says Whitt.  “They’re able to get some work in and from there we’ll map out a strategy on how to use them.”

After the third inning, Canada’s pitching staff was virtually unhittable. Trystan Magnuson (Vancouver, BC), Bryan Dumesnil (Nanaimo, BC), Jamie Richmond (Mississauga, ON), Vince Perkins (Victoria, BC) and Jimmy Henderson (Calgary, AB) combined to allow only two hits in remaining six innings. Richmond struck out the side in his one inning of work in the bottom of the sixth.

Todd Redmond was the starter on the mound for the U.S. and was perfect in his five innings of work, registering a pair of strikeouts along the way.

But Canada got the offence going in the top of the sixth when Adam Loewen (Surrey, BC) hit a leadoff double and would later score the Canadians’ first run on a sacrifice fly by Adam Stern (London, ON). Rene Tosoni (Coquitlam, BC) would push another run across in the inning on a ground out, bringing in Malo to cut the lead to four.

Canada added another in the top of the seventh when Malo drove in Emerson Frostad (Calgary, AB) and bring the lead down to three. The lead was dropped to one in the eighth when Tim Smith (Toronto, ON) hit a sacrifice fly to score Lawrie and Frostad hit an RBI single to drive in Tosoni. This set up the nail biting finish in the top of the ninth when Canada fell just short.

“Team Canada has always been known for its character,” says Loewen. “We never quit, even if we’re down by a lot of runs and that’s what we do. We take advantage of every opportunity that we get and that’s what we’re going to do come tournament time, that’s what we’re going to do every game.”

The fourth and final game of the pre-World Cup exhibition series between Canada and the United States goes on Sunday, September 6th at 5 PM ET at the USA Baseball National Training Complex.