By: Adam Morissette
Canadian Baseball Network
SANTO DOMINGO, DR – As Team Canada’s starting pitcher Ann-Sophie Lavallée was getting stronger, Mexico’s pitching staff fizzled, and a seven-run fifth inning propelled the undefeated Canucks to the gold medal game of the inaugural Women’s International Cup with an 11-1 mercy rule victory at Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal. Canada will face the Dominican Republic, who edged Cuba 9-8 in the other semi-final, at 2pm ET Sunday for the championship.
Lavallée had just struck out the side on ten pitches in the top of the fifth, allowing her team to come to the plate in the bottom half with a 4-1 lead. Heather Healey and Emma Carr drew bases on balls, and Claire Eccles dropped a perfectly placed bunt single to load the bases. Marie-France Castillo walked to score Healey, and Marie Roy drove a two-run single to make it 7-1.
Mia Valcke’s grounder to short forced Roy at second while Castillo scored, Gélinas walked, and Pascale Jalbert hit a deep two-run triple to the left field wall to give Canada a nine run lead. Heather Healey smashed the final blow almost as far as Jalbert’s blast, but it went into the scorebook as a single since Jalbert’s run iced the win.
Canada scored one in the first, two in the second, and one in the fourth leading up to the game-ending rally. Topping it off, Valcke walked and was stealing when Gélinas ripped a double into the right-centre field gap to score the game’s first run and chalk up the first of four runs batted in on the day.
In the second, Castillo reached first on an error by the shortstop, and an overthrow awarded her second base. Raelea Nickerson dropped a textbook sacrifice bunt to move Castillo to third, and a pitch hit Valcke. Valcke and Castillo then pulled off a perfect double steal, with Valcke moving to third while Mexico tried to nail Castillo at the plate, and scored on Gélinas’ baseball-savvy ground out to second, making it 3-1. In the fourth, Nickerson singled, pinch runner Roy swiped second, advanced to third on Valcke’s ground out, and scored on Gélinas’ sacrifice fly to deep right field.
Mexico scored its lone run in the second when first baseman Valcke fielded a grounder to her right threw but threw behind Lavallée as she covered first base. Lavallée hit the next batter and gave up a double to the right field gap that Emma Carr almost pulled off a Kevin Pillar-type grab on. In all, Lavelle’s spectacular outing went into the books as five innings pitched, allowing one run, no earned runs, two hits, striking out four, walking one and hitting one batter.
“Like we’ve done all tournament, we’ve pitched well and come up with some big run innings that’s led to our success,” said Manager André Lachance. “Even though we’ve won all four of our games it comes down to just one (game) in the gold medal contest, and we know the Dominican’s will bring their best effort on home soil.”
You can follow all of the action in tomorrow’s gold medal contest on Twitter: @Team_C_Updates.