GIJANG, Korea- Claire Eccles (White Rock, BC) came within two outs of a no hitter, while Kate Psota (Burlington, ON) went 4-for-4 and drove in a run as Canada picked up an 8-1 win over Venezuela to move to 2-1 in Super Round actions at the WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup.
Canada still has Super Round games remaining against host Korea and Chinese Taipei before Sunday’s medal games that will see the top two seeds meet for gold and the third and fourth seeds play for bronze.
“Claire fought it a bit early on with some walks, but once she settled it she was very good,” said Canadian Manager André Lachance. “As a group, we’ve been getting better each game so I’m pleased with the direction we’re taking.”
Box Score – Canada 8 Venezuela 1
After fielding a groundout herself for an out to start the bottom of the seventh, Eccles hit a batter before Venezuela’s Sor Malis Brito singled to centre on the first pitch she saw to break up the no hitter.
“I didn’t even realize I had (a no hitter) until right before I gave up the hit,” explained Eccles after the game. “It would have been nice to have but we got the win and at the end of the day that’s the main thing.”
Eccles fought control issues in the early part of the game walking the bases loaded in the second that saw a run score on a dribbler, hit just in front of home plate, that looked to be an inning ender. But after stepping on home plate for the force out, catcher Jenn Gilroy (Mississauga, ON) bounced a throw to first baseman Kate Psota that brought one run in. Psota quickly scooped up the ball and fired it to Gilroy who applied the tag on a sliding runner at home plate to end the inning.
“That was a huge play for us,” said Lachance of the out at home plate. “They were gaining momentum and Claire was struggling it a bit on the mound – we were fortunate to just give up one run.”
From the third on, Eccles allowed just two walks and kept her defence involved inducing ten groundouts on a run that saw her retire eight in a row at one point.
“I was a little nervous at the start given the situation of the game,” she said. “But I found I relaxed a bit and was able to pitch my game.”
Canada got things going offensively in the second as a couple hit by pitches and a Kate Psota single loaded the bases for Niki Boyd (Surrey, BC) who delivered a fly ball to left that allowed Jenn Gilroy to tag and score the first run of the game. Nicole Luchanski (Edmonton, AB) then followed with a single to right and Canada was up by two.
In the third, Canada tacked on another two runs and it was a Venezuelan error that got things started with one out as Jenna Flannigan (Cornwall, ON) reached before moving into scoring position on a stolen base. Kate Psota then stepped to the plate a came through with a single to right to score Flannigan before Mia Valcke (St. Marys, ON) was credited with an RBI after hitting into a fielder’s choice that brought in Jenn Gilroy.
Luchanksi singled in the sixth, as part of a 2-for-3 day at the plate, and came around to score on a balk call, while Gilroy’s two out double plated two as Canada added three insurance runs for Eccles before putting across one more in the seventh on a sac-fly from Ashley Stephenson (Mississauga, ON), who had a stellar game on defence.
Lachance is happy with his team’s play of late but knows that there is still plenty of work to do.
“Korea hasn’t won a game yet this round, but they’ll have a big crowd so we need to be ready to play in that type of environment,” he said. “It will be important for us to have a good start and hopefully keep things rolling.”
UP NEXT: Team Canada will continue Super Round action tomorrow against host Korea with the first pitch set for 9:30am KT/8:30pm ET (Thursday)…You can watch the game live on the WBSC’s YouTube channel.
Follow Team Canada: