By Adam Morissette
THUNDER BAY, Ontario – Canada will face Japan tomorrow (Noon E.T.) with a WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup bronze medal on the line, while the United States will play Korea for gold (5 p.m. E.T.).
Tomorrow’s bronze medal contest marks the first time since 2012 that Canada will play for a medal at the U-18 World Cup and the ninth time in the 28-year history of the event. Canada has won six medals all-time, including gold in 1991 (Brandon, Man.), silver in 2012 (Seoul, Korea) and bronze medals in 1983 (USA), 1987 (Windsor, Ont.), 1997 (Moncton, N.B.) and 2006 (Sancti Spiritus, Cuba). Canada lost bronze medal contests to finish fourth in 1986 (Windsor, Ont.) and the last time this event was held in Thunder Bay in 2010.
“Reaching a medal game is a nice accomplishment for our Junior National Team program but we want to go home with a (bronze) medal around our necks,” said Canadian manager Greg Hamilton. “The majority of our group has been together for two-years so coming away with a medal would be a nice way to finish off this (U-18) cycle.”
Canada defeated Japan, 6-4, just one night ago in Super Round play and knows that they will come out hungry tomorrow.
“Japan is a very proud baseball nation with a rich baseball history so we know that they will be giving everything they have tomorrow,” explained Hamilton. “We belong on the field with them and know that we can play with them.”
In a game that had no implications on the Super Round standings, Canada received a tremendous pitching performance from starter Michael Stovman (Maple Ridge, B.C.) and two RBI from Victor Cerny (Winnipeg, Man.) to get past Cuba, 4-2.
Stovman worked eight innings and gave up two runs on seven hits and just one walk while striking out one batter. More importantly, Stovman’s effort means that Canada will have a well rested pitching staff for tomorrow’s game against Japan.
“Michael provided exactly what we needed today and that was to give us some innings on the mound,” said Hamilton. “We’re in good shape (pitching-wise) heading into tomorrow.”
“It was special getting the start today against Cuba,” said Stovman. “It was my first start in a Canadian uniform and something that I won’t forget.”
Live streaming for tomorrow’s bronze medal game will be available via the WBSC’s YouTube channel.