THUNDER BAY – Canada will play for a medal at the Under 18 World Baseball Cup.
And they got there by beating the best the tournament had to offer. The Canadians scored three times in the seventh inning to pull out a 6-4 win over No. 1 seed Japan.
It’s a fantastic feeling, said designated hitter Archer Brookman, whose RBI single in the seventh kicked the comeback into gear, after Japan had gone in front in the sixth.
“That one felt really good, considering they’re the No. 1 team in the tournament. In front of the home crowd, it was nice to pull that one off,” said Brookman, equally happy to know Team Canada still has a shot at medalling.
“That was our goal. We didn’t come with the expectations of playing for a medal. It was either we were playing for a medal or it wasn’t a successful tournament. We did the job and we’re going to be playing for a medal, so hopefully we can pull it out.”
They'll most likely play for bronze against either Korea or Japan. However, if they beat Cuba and Japan beats Korea by seven or more runs, Canada would play for gold against the U.S.. But if Japan wins by six runs or fewer, Japan would play for bronze.
Manager Greg Hamilton called it a great win for his team, which is now 2-2 in the Super Round, tied with Japan. Korea is 3-1.
“It’s a great feeling. It’s a resilient bunch. They stayed together, they battled, they’ve had some ups and downs, but to beat a team like that – and around five errors – you’ve got to do some good things around those five errors to do it.”
The Canadians made the most of their chances, collecting just six hits off a quartet of Japanese pitchers, beginning with starter Soma Tokuyama.
Dontae Bremner kicked the scoring off in the second, singling to right-centre to give the Canadians a 2-0 lead.
The Japanese fought back in a hurry against right-hander Ben Abram in the second, who allowed a two-out, run-scoring single to No. 9 hitter Kenji Nishimaki.
Canada added another run in the fifth, Japanese reliever Hikaru Yamashita hitting Jason Willow with the bases loaded.
Abram retired the first two batters he faced in the fifth, but slugger Kotaro Kiyomiya belted his second homer of the tournament to straight centre, cutting Canada’s lead to 3-2.
Reliever Griffin Hassall took over and was victimized by poor defence.
A walk and back-to-back miscues allowed Nishimaki to score the equalizer, Hisanori Yasuda then grounding into a double-play that allowed Kyoto Fujiwara to cross the plate with the go-ahead run.
Canada tied it in thrilling fashion, Noah Naylor’s acrobatic slide avoiding Yuto Koga’s tag at the plate. Brookman dashed home from third on a wild pitch and Victor Cerny singled to plate Jason Willow, who had reached on a dropped third strike.
Hassall turned the ball over to Harley Gollert, who tossed a gutsy three innings of two-hit ball to earn the save, stranding a runner on third in the eighth and retiring the side in order in the ninth.
“I live for the pressure,” Gollert said. “This is what I’ve worked for since I was a young boy. Coming out here and doing this is what it’s all about.”
Canada and Cuba is scheduled for 5 p.m. at Port Arthur Stadium.
Australia 3, Cuba 0: Alex Hall tripled and drove in two and a trio of pitchers tossed a 12-hit shuout to drop Cuba to 0-4 in Super Round play. Australia improved to 1-3.
United States 2, Korea 0: Brice Turang was 2-for-4 with an RBI and starter Ethan Hankins allowed just two hits over six innings to earn the win for the U.S. (4-0). It was the first loss for Korea (3-1). Starter Been Gwak lasted into the ninth.
Mexico 5, Italy 4: Obeso Sanchez drove in the winning run with two out in the ninth evened it consolation round record at 2-2, tied for third with Italy.
Nicaragua 11, South Africa 1: Meneses Silva tossed seven innings of three-hit ball to lead Nicaragua to a consolation win, its first of the Baseball World Cup.
Chinese Taipei 4, Netherlands 1: Yu-Chuan Li homered to lead Chinese Taipei (4-0) to a consolation round win. Enrique Hatma went deep for the Dutch (3-1).