*LHP Andrew Albers (North Battleford, Sask.) pitched five scoreless innings as Canada blanked Korea in a must-win situation.
By Adam Morissette
Aguadulce, Panama -- It couldn't have gone any better for Canada today at the 39th IBAF World Cup. A doubleheader and two must-win games on the line and Canada not only won both, but didn't allow a run while doing so, not a bad day for pitching coach Denis Boucher (Lachine, Que.).
Canada now faces another big game Friday where it must beat Cuba to have any hope of playing in Saturday's gold medal game.
"We came out today and did what we needed to do," said Canadian manager, Ernie Whitt. "Losing to Australia (the other day) gave us a wake-up call and I'm thrilled with the way the team has responded."
After a dominant 7-0 win over Venezuela in the morning, Canada rode the left arm of Andrew Albers (North Battleford, Sask.) and received timely hitting when they needed in beating South Korea, 4-0.
"What can you say about Andrew Albers," added Whitt. "Just a tremendous, gutsy effort on his part - he kept us in the game."
Albers worked a scoreless first inning and South Korea had one out in the bottom of the first before heavy rain hit which cause a delay of over an hour.
When the skies cleared, Albers picked up where he left off and held the Korean hitters off balance to keep them off the scoreboard.
On the other side of the ball, South Korea's Hyoun Taek Oh had Canadian hitters baffled as he recorded eight strikeouts through four innings.
Jonathan Malo (Joliette, Que.) singled to lead-off the fifth and Oh was promptly removed from the game in favour of a left-handed pitcher to throw to left-handed hitter, Chris Bisson (Orleans, Ont.). Bisson laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt and the throw to first base was high leaving Canada with runners on first and second. After a strikeout, Tim Smith (Toronto, Ont.) came up clutch again and delivered an RBI single up the middle.
Canada went on to score three more runs to take a comfortable four run lead. Emerson Frostad (Calgary, Alta.) continued to swing a hot bat and drove in a run during the four-run fifth.
"Smitty's doing a great job," said Whitt. "Our veteran player's have been huge for us and that's what they're here for."
Albers left the game after the fifth and was replaced by fellow Saskatchewan native, Dustin Molleken (Regina, Sask.) who came out for the sixth and seventh innings and kept the shutout intact.
Skyler Stromsmoe (Bow Island, Alta.) led the Canadian offence with two hits against South Korea.
"It's going to be a tough game against Cuba tomorrow," continued Whitt. "They run, hit and hit for power. We're going to throw Shawn Hill (Mississauga, Ont.) and take our chances."
Notes: Hill last faced Cuba at the 2004 Athens Olympics in a memorable quarter-final game where Canada lost a heartbreaker. Hill carries a 2-0 record into the start ... Follow Canada vs. Cuba LIVE AT 3:30PM CT by visiting www.ibaf.org ... The game will take place at Rod Carew Stadium in Panama City.
And in other games ...
USA 2 – Australia 1
At the end of a fancy pitching duel between left handed prospects Drew Smyly (Tigers) and Clayton Tanner (Reds), Team USA beat Australia (2-1). The fact the game was set to seven innings only leaves Australia with some regret. The Aussies scored in the seventh and the inning ended when third baseman Wearne lined into a game ending double play with the tying run on base.
Netherlands 2 – Australia 1
In a game that started on Wednesday at 2 pm and resumed on Thursday at 3.30 pm, The Netherlands beat Australia (2-1) and now they are one win away from a final that would be a milestone in international baseball, since the Dutch would be the first European team to accomplish such a goal. Australia spoiled a great start by Dushan Ruzic as reliever Andrew Russell took the mound when the game resumed and immediately got into trouble hitting Curt Smith, allowing a base hit to Bryan Engelhardt and advancing the runners on a bad pickoff attempt. The call to Brendan Wise was made definitely too late. Shairon Schoop imitates his brother Jonathan and bats in the winning run for the Dutch.
Panama 4 – Korea 5
Korea stunned Panama with a 5-4 comeback win on Friday evening, ending the host’s hopes for a Gold Medal opportunity. The Olympic champion turned around a 1-3 deficit with a four-run rally in the top of the sixth inning. Panama tried to rally in the end, but a flyout ended the game with runners at the corners. Jose Macias and Fernando Seguinol went deep for the home team, Yi Young Lee for the guests from Asia. The game was delayed twice due to rain.
Cuba 1 – Netherlands 4
The Netherlands are making history. After beating (4-1) Cuba, becoming the first European team in 73 years to compete for a Gold Medal in the IBAF Baseball World Cup. The Dutch deserved to win. Starter Orlando Yntema and reliever Leon Boyd were extremely solid on the mound and the offense beat Cuba with their own weapon: the long ball. All of the runs for the Netherlands came actually on home runs, a couple of two-run homeruns by Brian Engelhardt and Kalian Sams.
2nd Round Standings
1) Netherlands 5-1 2) Cuba 4-1 3) Canada 4-2 4) USA 2-3 5) Panama 2-3 6) Korea 2-4 7) Australia 2-4 8) Venezuela 1-4
The second round at the 2011 IBAF Baseball World Cup is coming to an end on Friday. The main focus will be on the game between Cuba and Canada at Rod Carew Stadium in Panama City. However, the race for the Bronze Medal Game is interesting as well with several teams still having a shot to make it. Three games apiece are scheduled for the stadiums in Panama City and Aguadulce. Cuba, Panama, Venezuela and USA will have to play doubleheaders, as a result of Wednesday’s rainouts. All games are set for seven innings each.