Canada Opens WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship with Win over South Africa
Softball Canada – (Whitehorse, Y.T.) After a bit of a slow start, Team Canada opened the WBSC Men’s World Softball Championship with a 10-2 win over South Africa. The South Africans surprised Canada early by producing four hits and two runs in the bottom of the first inning, but that was all they could muster offensively as Canadian starting pitcher Colin Walsh (Petty Harbour, N.L) settled in and Justin Schofield (Grand Pre, N.S.) was dominant in four innings of relief.
Team Canada opened the scoring in the top of the first inning when Kris Walushka (Victoria, B.C) was hit by a pitch to lead off the game followed by a single by Mark Johnson (Glencoe, Ont.) to put runners on the corners. Steve Mullaley (Freshwater, N.L.) hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Walushka, later followed by a run-scoring single to center by Derek Mayson (North Vancouver, B.C.) to give Canada a quick 2-0 lead. However, South Africa came right back with a leadoff triple and a single to trim the lead to one, and later got a run-scoring single to knot the game 2-2.
In the top of the third, Canada got the bats going and pulled away by scoring four runs. Walushka got things started again with a leadoff single followed by a single by Johnson before Blake Hunter (Nanaimo, B.C.) deposited a three-run homerun over the fence in straightaway centerfield. Mayson later singled and advanced to third on a single to right by Shane Boland (St. John’s, N.L.) before scoring on a passed ball. Meanwhile, Walsh overcame a rough first inning to sit South Africa down in order in each of the second third innings before giving way to Schofield to start the bottom of the fourth, striking out the side.
Canada added a run to its lead in the top of the fifth when Hunter drew a leadoff walk and moved up to third on a double to center by Mullaley before scoring on a passed ball. Schofield struck out the side again in the bottom half of the fifth and notched two more strikeouts to retire the side in order in the sixth. In the top of the seventh, Johnson led off with a towering homerun followed by another no-doubter by Hunter as Canada added to its lead to make the score 9-2. Mayson drew a walk and advanced to third on a double to the right field corner by Andy Skelton (Scarborough, Ont.) before scoring on a sacrifice fly by Ryan Boland (St. John’s, N.L.). Schofield ended the game the same way he entered it, striking out the side once again to retire 11 out of the 12 batters he faced on strikes.
Box Score: Canada 10 vs. South Africa 2
Walsh allowed two runs on four hits over three innings pitched, striking out three. Hunter smacked two homeruns and drove in four for Canada, while Johnson added a solo blast and a pair of singles. Walushka and Mayson each contributed a pair of singles, with Mullaley and Skelton hitting doubles and Shane Boland adding a single.
In other action on the first day of competition at the WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship, Botswana started the event on the right foot by blanking Great Britain 1-0 before New Zealand hammered Turkey 22-0 and the Dominican Republic powered past Hong Kong 21-0. The Czech Republic edged Denmark 3-2 and Australia defeated India 16-0, with Argentina wrapping up the day with a 5-1 win over the United States. Japan opened their tournament with a 7-0 default victory over Venezuela, as the Venezuelans were unable to arrive in Whitehorse on time due to travel issues.
Team Canada (1-0) will return to action against Argentina (1-0) at 7:00pm PDT on Saturday.
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