Canada loses to Japan
* Japan had plenty of support at Telus Field ….
By Adam Morrissette
EDMONTON _ Canada gave a valiant effort and in the end came up short in dropping a 9-7 decision to Japan in their final round-robin game at the 5th IBAF Women’s Baseball World Cup.
The loss, Canada’s first of the tournament, puts them in second place after round-robin competition and sets-up a semi-final contest with Team USA whom Canada defeated 15-9 in an extra-inning thriller earlier in the tournament.
Down 9-3 in the top of the seventh, Canada thrilled the crowd of 5,100 with a stirring comeback that saw them score four runs and threaten for more before Japan turned a 1-2-3 double-play with the bases loaded to end the game.
“I would have been disappointed had our team folded up after being down earlier in the game, but we show a lot of character nearly coming back,” said Canadian manager André Lachance. “I’m not too concerned about tomorrow after tonight’s loss. I know our team won’t have any trouble getting up for tomorrow’s game.”
Nicole Luchanksi (Edmonton, AltA.) led off the game with a double to left field, advanced to third on an Ashley Stephenson (Mississauga, Ont.) single and later scored on Kate Psota’s (Burlington, Ont.) RBI ground out.
Canada outhit the Japanese 15-9 and for the sixth time the tournament recorded double digits in hits.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this in my coaching career,” said Lachance of his team’s offensive prowess. “I think we have five players hitting above .500 which tells you how successful we’ve been so far.”
Japan scored four runs off starter Brinley McLaren (Brantford, Ont.) who only lasted 1 2/3 innings and gave up five hits, while walking three.
McLaren was replaced by Tara Sliwkanich (Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.) who gave-up five runs including three in the fourth where three runs were scored on a bases clearing triple.
Down 9-1 in the fifth, Canada scored twice to close the gap to six when Nicole Luchanski scored on a sacrifice-fly from Stéphanie Savoie (Québec, Que.) and Jennifer Gilroy (Mississauga, Ont.) picked up an RBI single.
Luchanski once again had a nice day at the plate going 3-for-4 with a double after a 4-for-5 game last night, while Gilroy had two hits and two RBI.
Hannah Martensen (Ottawa, Ont.) came on for the fifth and sixth innings and managed a strikeout in two perfect innings.
Canada began mounting a comeback in the top of the seventh exploding for four runs. Savoie doubled to lead off the inning and came around to score on a double from Gilroy. Meagan Cornelssen (Grande-Prairie, Alta.), Bradi Wall (Swift Current, Sask.) and Jenna Flannigan (Cornwall, Ont.) also had RBI singles before Japan recorded the double play with the bases loaded to end the game.
Flannigan also was a major contributor on offense as she went 3-for-4 to bring her tournament average to .565.
The semi-final with the United States is shaping up to be the game of the tournament as the American’s will be looking to avenge the loss to Canada earlier in the tournament in front of what promises to be a pro-Canadian crowd.
“Neither team will need to be motivated for tomorrow’s game,” said Lachance. “We have a natural rivalry and both sides will be hungry for a win which should make for a great game.”
The other semi-final will see Japan take-on Australia.
Notes: Tomorrow’s game against Team USA will begin at 9:30pm ET and the game can be heard live on-line … LIVE tournament scoring of all games, standings, stats and rosters can be found at: www.ibaf.org … Follow Baseball Canada on Twitter (www.twitter.com/baseballcanada) for up-to-date news and information.