Canada Suffers First Loss of WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship
July 17, 2017
Softball Canada - (Whitehorse, Y.T.) The Canadian Men’s National Softball Team suffered its first loss of the WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship in a wild 12-11 game against New Zealand. The two teams have had epic battles every time they have faced each other, and this one was no different in rainy conditions with Canada jumping to a 9-2 lead with a seven-run inning only to see New Zealand score eight of their own to erase the deficit and held on for the narrow win.
Nathan Nukunuku hit a two-out double in the top of the first but was left stranded, while Canada got on the board in the bottom of the inning when Mathieu Roy (St-Gervais, Que.) was hit by a pitch and scored on a two-run homerun to left-center field by Bradley Ezekiel (Harbour Main, N.L.). Steve Mullaley (Freshwater, N.L.) followed that with a double inside the right field line, with Derek Mayson (North Vancouver, B.C.) getting hit by a pitch and both runners moving up on a wild pitch, but a pop out to shortstop ended the inning with Canada ahead 2-0. In the top of the second, Canadian starter Devon McCullough (Saskatoon, Sask.) issued a pair of walks to start the inning, but he got the next batter to foul out to left with the lead runner being called out for leaving early while tagging up followed by a ground out to McCullough to end the threat.
In the top of the third, New Zealand got a leadoff single followed by a two-run homerun by Campbell Enoka to tie the game. In the bottom half of the third, Canada got three consecutive singles by Brandon Horn (Waterloo, Ont.), Ezekiel and Mullaley to score the go-ahead run, followed by a hit by pitch to load the bases with no outs. A walk and a hit by pitch forced two more runs home, followed by a pair of sacrifice fly balls by Ryan Boland (St. John’s, N.L.) and Kevin Schellenberg (Squamish, B.C.). Roy then lined a shot to the left-center field gap for a run-scoring double, and came around to score on a single by Horn as Canada took a 9-2 lead.
New Zealand got a leadoff double and a walk to start the fourth before the game was stopped for a 20-minute rain delay. When play resumed, Justin Schofield (Grand Pre, N.S.) replaced McCullough in the pitcher’s circle, and walked the first batter he faced to load the bases. Kallan Compain then hit a grand slam to reduce Canada’s lead to 9-6, and three straight walks loaded the bases again for New Zealand, with McCullough re-entering the game. A run scored on a wild pitch followed by a check-swing bloop single by Brad Rona over the shortstop to bring another run in to score. Another walk loaded the bases once again and Wayne Laulu put the bat on the ball and dropped another single in front of the outfielder for a single to plate two more runs, giving New Zealand a 10-9 lead. In the bottom of the fourth, Mayson was hit by a pitch once again and moved up to second on a passed ball but was unable to get any further as the game was delayed once again to work on the field.
In the top half of the fifth, New Zealand put two runners on base on an error and a single, but McCullough notched two big strikeouts to keep the game close. In the bottom of the inning, Roy led off with a bunt single, moved up to second on a wild pitch and scored when Ezekiel lined a double to the right-center field gap to tie the game 10-10. However, New Zealand regained the lead immediately when Thomas Enoka led off the top of the sixth with a homerun. New Zealand added an insurance run to its lead later in the inning on a fielder’s choice with the runner on first sliding into Horn at second base on an attempted double play. Nik Hayes struck out the side in the bottom of the sixth to send the game to the seventh with New Zealand ahead 12-10.
McCullough retired the first two batters in the top of the seventh, and a single and an error put two runners on base before he struck out the next batter. Shane Boland (St. John’s, N.L.) pinch hit to lead off the bottom of the seventh and was hit by a pitch in the dirt, and after a strikeout, Horn singled up the middle followed by another strikeout. Mullaley chopped a ground ball off the pitcher’s glove to reach base and load the bases, with Mayson working a walk to trim the lead to one. Mark Johnson (Glencoe, Ont.) then hit a solid liner that the shortstop picked up on the short hop and tossed to third for the final out.
Box Score: Canada 11 vs. New Zealand 12
Ezekiel went four-for-five at the plate with a homerun, a double and three runs batted in, with Horn hitting three singles and Roy and Mullaley each had two hits including a double and each driving in a run. Mayson was hit three times and walked once. McCullough took the loss in the split appearance, allowing seven runs on ten hits and five walks with nine strikeouts in six inning and two thirds. Schofield gave up five runs on a hit and four walks.
New Zealand advances directly to the Gold medal game with the win, while Canada will await the winner of the game between Argentina and Australia taking place on Saturday night. The Bronze medal game between Canada and the winner of Argentina and Australia will be played at 1:00pm PDT, with the winner of that game taking on New Zealand for Gold at 4:00pm PDT.
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