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Softball Canada – (Whitehorse, Y.T.) The Canadian Men’s National Softball Team opened the playoffs with a 2-0 win over Japan at the WBSC Men’s World Championship, securing a spot in the medal round. Sean Cleary (Harbour Main, N.L.) was sensational in the pitcher’s circles, while Mark Johnson’s (Glencoe, Ont.) two-run homerun in the bottom of the fifth was all the offence Canada would need.
 
In the top of the first inning, Japan got a one-out single but Cleary settled in and struck out the next two batters, with Canada going down in order in the bottom of the frame. Both teams couldn’t get anything going in the second, but Japan led off the third with a single with the runner advancing to second on a wild pitch. Cleary was able to get out of the jam, striking out the next batter followed by a foul out to first and a groundout to shortstop. The following inning, Japan got a runner on base on an error, but Cleary once again left the runner stranded with a pair of strikeouts.
 
Canada got its first baserunner of the game when Bradley Ezekiel (Harbour Main, N.L.) drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the fourth, but after a strikeout, Ezekiel was caught stealing at second to end the inning. Japan managed a two-out single in the top half of the fifth but the next batter flied out, with Canada getting a leadoff single on a line shot off the pitcher’s glove by Derek Mayson (North Vancouver, B.C.) before Johnson drew the infield in by squaring for a bunt before pulling the next pitch deep down the left field line for a two-run blast to give Canada a 2-0 lead. Blake Hunter (Nanaimo, B.C.) followed that up with a single, but after a pitching change the next batter lined out to third with Hunter being double up at first.
 
Japan went down in order in the top of the sixth, but threatened in the seventh by getting the first two batters on base with a pair of singles. However, the next batter flew out to right and Mathieu Roy (St-Gervais, Que.) fired a perfect throw to second to catch the trailing runner trying to tag up from first. With a runner on third, Cleary got the last batter to strike out on a great changeup to end the game.
 
Box Score: Canada 2 vs. Japan 0
 
Cleary was fantastic in the pitcher’s circle, registering the complete game shutout by allowing five hits and striking out eight batters. Canada only managed three hits off Japanese pitcher Hayami Takahashi, but they all came at the same time with Johnson delivering the game-winning blow.
 
The win secured Canada’s spot in the medal round and set up a rematch of the 2015 Gold medal game against New Zealand at 4:00pm PDT on Saturday. The winner of that game will advance directly to Sunday’s Gold medal game, while the losing team will play in the Bronze medal game earlier in the day with the chance to earn a spot in the Gold medal game.
 
In the Championship round, Argentina blanked Botswana 5-0 to eliminate from the tournament, with Botswana earning its best-ever World Championship result with an eighth place finish, and the United States hammered Venezuela 11-3 to eliminate them. New Zealand defeated Australia 6-2 to earn a spot in the 1 vs. 2 playoff game with Canada. Early games on Saturday will feature Japan taking on Argentina at 11:00am PDT and the United States against Australia at 1:30pm PDT. The winning teams from those two games will meet at 6:30pm PDT to determine who will move on the Sunday’s Bronze medal game.

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For more information, please contact:

Gilles LeBlanc
Manager – Marketing & Communications
Softball Canada
p: (613) 523-3386 ext. 3105 | m: (613) 795-1996
w: www.softball.ca | e: gleblanc@softball.ca