By: Adam Morissette
Canadian Baseball Network
SANTO DOMINGO, DR – From coast to coast, like butter on toast, southpaw Claire Eccles (White Rock, BC) and righty Katie Hagen (Dartmouth, NS) used their poise as well as their curve balls to get out of jams in combining on a four-hitter while striking out six in Team Canada’s convincing 9-1 win over the host Dominican Republic at Santo Domingo’s Olympic Stadium at the inaugural U20 Women’s International Cup tournament.
Canada improved its record to 2-0 and complete their round-robin portion of the tournament this afternoon at 3:00pm EST against Mexico. Semi-finals take place on Saturday, with the gold medal championship final on Sunday.
In extremely humid 30 degree heat, Eccles appeared to tire in the fourth, walking in the Dominican’s lone run, but just as she did with the bases loaded in the second inning, she used a back door curve ball to buckle the hitter and get out of the jam. Hagen, at 15, Canada’s youngest player, took over in the fifth and used her sharp breaking ball to strike out a pair in the fifth as well as the last hitter in the sixth in allowing four runners left on base.
Pascale Jalbert (St-Honoré, QC) flashed the leather in the seventh, going far to her left to rob a base hit destined for left field, and firing it to Daphnée Gélinas (Repentigny, QC) at second base, who relayed it to Ann-Sophie Lavallée (Boucherville, QC) for a double play, before going to her backhand on a shot down the line and throwing a frozen rope to first for the game’s final out.
Catcher Marie-Fance Castillo (Laval, QC) made the other defensive gem of the game when Hagen struck out a hitter in the sixth and she fired a strike down to second base to pick off the runner who had taken too much of a secondary lead.
Canada opened the scoring when Emma Carr (Toronto, ON) sliced a one-out line drive single to left, advanced to second on Gélinas’ ground out, and scored on Jalbert’s single to centre. Isabella Denis (Candiac, QC) was hit by a pitch, and Castillo followed with a base hit to left, doubling the lead to 2-0.
In the fifth, Carr and Gélinas led off with back-to-back singles, Jalbert walked, Denis hit into a fielder’s choice, Castillo walked, Lavallée hit into a fielder’s choice, and Raelea Nickerson (Lower Sackville, NS) and Élyane Guévremont (Varennes, QC) drew back-to-back walks, before Mia Valcke (St. Marys, ON) drove a line drive single to left, all amounting to a five-run rally that put Canada in the driver’s seat.
Heather Healey (Paradise, NL) crushed a triple with two out in the fifth, and scored when the shorstop threw wide on Carr’s grounder. In the sixth, Lavallée was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, plating Jalbert, who had walked to lead off the inning.
“Claire really set the tone on the mound, and the Dominicans knew they were going to be in for a long day,” said Team Canada Manager Andre Lachance.
“It was pleasing to see someone so young (Hagen) take the mound with the poise she showed in her first outing. Katie has a bright future ahead of her.”