OKINAWA, Japan –The Canadian Men’s Baseball Team dropped the second game of the ENEOS SAMURAI JAPAN SERIES to Japn by a score of 3-0 to split the two-game exhibition series as both nations continue preparations for the upcoming World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Premier12.
Canada was unable to solve pitchers Shota Imanaga and Yudai Ohno while Japan took advantage of three walks and received some timely hitting to generate their offence.
“We faced some real good pitching – they have some quality arms over there,” commented Canadian Manager Ernie Whitt. “But I’m very pleased overall in the way that our team has competed in these last two games.
“Our goal here is to get ready for Premier12 and we’ve been able to accomplish that with these games against a very good Japan team.”
Canada received a strong performance from starting pitcher Rob Zastryzny (Edmonton, AB) who made his debut in a Canadian uniform with three scoreless innings of work that included four strikeouts.
“I thought I’d did a very good job of mixing speeds and working inside and outside of the plate,” explained Zastryzny. “I thought (Dustin Houle) did a really good job behind the plate.”
Reliever Daniel Procopio (Toronto, ON) took over for Zastryzny in the fourth and struggled with command early on walking the first two batters he faced before an RBI groundout off the bat of Hideto Asamura gave Japan a 1-0 lead while an RBI single from Tetsuto Yamada in the fifth put them up by two.
They went on to add another run in the eighth with an RBI single off reliever Dylan Rheault (Garson, ON) to increase their lead to 3-0.
Japan starting pitcher Shota Imanaga struck out six batters over three innings of work while Ohno followed with three scoreless innings including a key double play in the fourth after Eric Wood (Oshawa, ON) and Michael Saunders (Victoria, BC) connected on back-to-back, one-out singles.
“Their pitchers threw strikes and changed speeds very well and their defence was there when they needed to be,” added Whitt.
Chris Leroux (Mississauga, ON) was a bright spot out of the bullpen as he tossed two scoreless frames allowing just one hit while Jasvir Rakkar (Brampton, ON) worked his way through a scoreless ninth inning on the mound.
“Outside of the walks I thought we pitched pretty well today and made some plays on defence,” continued Whitt. “Playing a team the quality of Japan is going to help us once the tournament begins.”
Canada will conclude their time in Japan with a scrimmage game against the Yushu Industrial All-Stars on November 3rd before opening Premier12 play on November 6th against Cuba at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, South Korea.
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