Canada Improves To 2-1 In Olympic Qualifier
Canada is competing to qualify for their third Olympics, second since becoming an official Olympic sport and second in a row in Taiwan from March 7-15. Canada is competing with six other countries for three berths at the Beijing Games.
Canada played a strong Mexican team in the first game. Despite giving up 10 runs, Canada was able to pull off the victory with a 15-10 score.
Pitchers Steve Green and T.J. Burton cemented the Canadian win on Friday, combining to shut out Mexico over the final 2 2/3 innings.
Canada jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a pair of hits by Mike Saunders and Matt Rogelstad. Another run in the second and three more in the third frame gave the red and white a seemingly comfortable advantage.
But Carlos Valencia helped vault Mexico into the lead in the bottom of the inning with a two-run home run before the Canadians plated three runs in the fourth to move ahead 9-8.
In Canada’s five-run seventh inning, Adam Stern (you might remember him as the hero who made a sensation catch in Centre field at the ’06 WBC to rob Chase Utley of extra bases) and Jimmy VanOstrand drove in two runs apiece on a double and triple respectively.
On Saturday, Canada played an overmatched South African squad. Brett Gray of Petrolia, Ont., pitched a strong four innings as Canada earned a 10-0 mercy rule win. Gray, who is pitching despite a shoulder injury, allowed three hits and a walk while fanning three during his stint on the mound.
“To go out there and throw four (innings) meant the world to me,” said Gray. “I’m a little banged up with my arm so my (pitches) weren’t all that good, but the defence played awesome and it just felt good to get out there and get another win.”
Canada fell to 2-1 in the tournament on Sunday, as the national baseball team gave up four runs in two separate innings to drop a 10-5 decision to Australia.
Canada took an early lead on Richmond, B.C., native Jimmy VanOstrand’s solo homer, but gave up four runs in both the third and fifth innings, including a bases-loaded triple by Australian Brett Roneberg in the fifth.
“We just gave them too many runs,” said manager Terry Puhl. “You can’t win many ball games when you give up 10 runs.”
Australian pitcher Steve Kent limited the Canadians to three runs over six innings.
Matt Rogelstad of New Westminster, B.C., hit a two-run homer in the seventh, and Calgary’s Ryan Radmanovich did the same in the eighth, but it was a case of too little, too late.
Some notable players on this year’s squad include Ryan Radmanovich, Adam Stern, Stubby Clapp. The team is managed by Terry Puhl with a little help from his friend Rob Ducey.
The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games will be the last for baseball until the International Olympic Committee reinstates baseball as an Olympic sport and the earliest that can happen is for the 2016 Olympics in London. For that, there is an extra sense of urgency to qualify for the Games.
“It’s going to be special because it could be the last Olympics, but it’s also a big part of our program,” says Clapp. “If we’re not able to participate, our program could take a big hit.”
Canada plays Monday against Chinese Taipei.