By Adam Morissette
THUNDER BAY, Ontario – Canada (1-2) will live another day at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup.
A sacrifice fly to left from Marc-Antoine Lebreux (Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines, Que.) allowed Clayton Keyes (Calgary, Alta.) to tag and score the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth to help complete the comeback in a dramatic, 6-5, win over Italy.
Reliever Wesley Moore (Surrey, B.C.) picked up the win after entering the game with two out in the sixth and getting a strikeout on three pitches to strand runners on second and third. Moore was locked in from there on out scattering just three hits over three and one-third scoreless innings that included five strikeouts.
“I was pretty focused out there and did my best to stay in the moment,” said Moore of pitching in an intense environment. “I was able to block out the crowd and everything going on around me and just focus on each pitch.”
The win, Canada’s first of the tournament, gives them renewed life and sets up another must-win match up slated for Tuesday evening (6:30 p.m. E.T.) against Australia (3-1).
“That’s international baseball at its finest,” said Canadian manager Greg Hamilton. “I told the guys after the game that these games are what makes international baseball so special.
“We found a way to win and hopefully we can keep some of that magic going forward.”
With Canada trailing by two in the eighth, two out and runners on first and second, Jason Willow (Victoria, B.C.) came up with clutch triple to left-centre that fell just out of the reach of the Italian centerfielder and tied the score.
The triple came off Italy reliever Oscar Tucci who put forth a gutsy effort on the mound going five and two-thirds innings.
“Hats off to them,” said Hamilton. “They battled and made it really difficult for us all game.”
Italy had used a solo home run off Canada starter Ben Abram (Georgetown, Ont.) in the second before a Denzel Clarke (Pickering, Ont.) RBI single tied the score in the third.
A two-run single in the fourth put Italy up by two before they regained their three-run lead with a two-out double in the fifth.
Willow’s double in the sixth brought Canada to within two before his game-tying hit in the eighth.
After meeting Australia eight times and winning four games and tying one in a pre-World Cup series, the two countries will meet with a lot on the line on Tuesday.
“We have to quickly forget about this one and be ready to play tomorrow,” added Hamilton after Monday's game. “It’s win or go home.”
Live scoring for Tuesday’s contest against Australia will be available via the WBSC website.