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Baseball Canada – GIJANG, Korea- Japan’s Ayami Sato fashioned a three-hitter and struck out 11 Canadian batters, while her offence banged out ten hits and took advantage of some miscues on defence to hand Canada an 8-2 opening game loss at the 7th WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup.

“She (Sato) proved why she’s one of the top pitchers in the world,” said Canadian Manager André Lachance. “What she did tonight was impressive. We had little answer for her after taking an early lead.”

Box Score: Japan 8 Canada 2

A two out single to right field off the bat of Niki Boyd (Surrey, BC) with the bases loaded scored Jenna Flannigan (Cornwall, ON) and Jenn Gilroy (Burlington, ON) in the bottom of the second as Canada opened the scoring.

The lead was short-lived however as Japan answered back in the top of third with a pair of runs to tie the score. Ayako Rokkaku singled with one out off Canadian starter Autumn Mills (London, ON) before swiping both second and third, and later scored on a wild pitch. After a walk and single put runs on the corners, a successful double steal brought in the tying run.

Japan went out in front in the top of the fourth as Mills hit the lead off batter who later advanced to second on a groundout for the second out of the inning before Yaya Kojima hit an 0-1 pitch into left for an RBI single.

Mills got into trouble in the fifth as a walk, bunt single and hit batter loaded the bases with one out before a single that dropped into right field brought in a run to make it 4-2. Lachance then went to centerfielder Claire Eccles (White Rock, BC) to come on in relief, while Becky Hartley came off the bench to play centre. Eccles started what could have been an inning ending double play, however catcher Jenn Gilroy’s throw to first hit the runner that allowed the second Japan run of the inning to score.

“There’s little margin for error when you’re playing Japan,” added Lachance. “If you give them the slightest bit of room, they normally take advantage of those types of situations and make you pay. There were a few situations like that tonight.”

After Boyd’s two run single in the second, Sato went to work retiring 14 out of the next 15 batters she faced. She walked just one and hit one batter, while only allowing one base hit after two base hits in the second.

Japan added a run in the sixth before plating two more in the seventh, both coming on a two out single with the bases loaded.

“I think tonight was important for our team in the sense that we played with them for a few innings,” said Lachance. “We know we have to be mistake-free against them but they are beatable.

“We need to move on from this one though and get ready for India tomorrow.”

UP NEXT: Canada will face an unknown opponent tomorrow in India (2:30am ET/3:30pm KT) as it will be the first time ever that the two countries have faced each other in a sanctioned international competition…You can follow the game, pitch-by-pitch via the WBSC Live Scoring system.

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Adam Morissette
Media/PR, Baseball Canada
Work: 613-748-5606
Mobile: 613-862-0256