Canada Loses First Playoff Game at X Pan American Men’s Softball Championship
Softball Canada – Santo Domingo, D.R. – The Canadian Men’s National Team fought back throughout the game but ultimately came out on the short end of a 6-5 decision to the United States. The Americans built a 5-2 lead on the strength of three homeruns only to see Jason Hill (St. John’s, N.L.) bring Canada within one with a two-run shot of his own, and Canada seemed poised for a comeback in the bottom of the seventh but their rally was cut short on a strange play to end the game.
Both teams got a single in the first inning but were unable to move the runners forward, and Canada opened the scoring in the bottom half of the second when Bryan Abrey (Richmond, B.C.) led off with a single, later followed by two-out singles by Ben Wideman (Fergus, Ont.) and Patrick Burns (Saskatoon, Sask.) to plate the first run of the game. The United States responded immediately with a leadoff homerun by Yusef Davis to tie the game, followed by a batter reaching on an error and a pair of singles as the Americans took a 2-1 lead. The United States added a run on an RBI groundout in the fourth but Bryn Redhead (Leduc, Alta.) brought Canada back within one in the bottom of the frame with a leadoff homerun to center. Erick Ochoa then hit a two-run homerun in the top of the fifth to give Team USA the 5-2 lead.
Team Canada got back in the game quickly in the bottom of the fifth, as Kyle Ezekiel (Holyrood, N.L.) was hit by a pitch with two outs and scored on Hill’s two-run homerun to cut the lead to one. In the top of the seventh, the United States got a runner on base on an error and was able to bring him in to score later in the inning after loading the bases with a single and a walk and scoring the insurance run on a passed ball.
That insurance run would prove to be important, as Ty Sebastian (Brussels, Ont.) was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the seventh and advanced to third on a single by Ezekiel to put runners on the corners with one out. Hill then stepped up and hit a towering drive deep to right-center field that the centerfielder seemed to catch but bobbled it against the wall, with Sebastian crossing the plate. However, there was confusion on the base paths behind him as Hill passed Ezekiel thinking the ball was caught and was called out, and Ezekiel retreated to first thinking it was a catch but the ball was thrown back to the infield and fired to second base to force Ezekiel out as the hit was ruled a single, ending the game with a 6-5 final score.
Box Score: United States 6 vs. Canada 5
Scott Lieph (Sooke, B.C.) got the start in the pitcher’s circle for Canada and allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits and two walks over three innings of work. Ryan French (Cambridge, Ont.) allowed three runs (two earned) on only one hit and two walks, striking out seven over three innings and a third. Devon McCullough (Saskatoon, Sask.) pitched two thirds of an inning and allowed the winning run to score. Hill led Canada offensively with a homerun, two singles and three runs batted in, with Redhead adding a homerun. Burns contributed a run-scoring single, while Walushka, Ezekiel, Abrey and Wideman registered Canada’s other hits.
With the loss, Canada will now face Mexico at 11:30am EDT on Saturday in an elimination game. The winner of that game will move on to face the winner of a game between Cuba and Venezuela at 4:30pm EDT.
The United States will face Argentina at 2:00pm EDT with the winner advancing directly to Sunday’s Gold medal game.
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