By Adam Morissette
THUNDER BAY, Ontario – Triston Casas homered and drove in five runs to lead the United States to an 8-3 win over Canada as the WBSC U-18 World Cup ‘Super Round’ opened at Port Arthur Stadium.
The loss puts Canada’s Super Round record at 1-2 with games against Japan (Friday, 5 p.m. E.T.) and Cuba (Saturday, 5 p.m. E.T.) coming up. Following the Super Round, the top two seeds will meet for gold on Sunday while the third and fourth seeds will play for bronze.
Canada outhit the United States 10-6 missing on some chances to cut into the lead as the U.S. used some sound defensive play to spoil the comeback.
“We definitely missed out on some opportunities to get back into the game,” said Canadian manager Greg Hamilton. “That’s a pretty good team over there and to beat them you need to take advantage (of opportunities) when you get them.”
Starter Eric Cerantola (Oakville, Ont.) got off to a tough start as he walked the first three batters he faced in the bottom of the first that led to two U.S. runs crossing the plate.
Canada responded with a pair of hits in the top of the second from Jason Willow (Victoria, B.C.) and Victor Cerny (Winnipeg, Man.) to put runners on second and third before Denzel Clarke (Pickering, Ont.) drove in a run on fielder’s choice that put Canada on the scoreboard. Though Canada scored their first run of the game, both Cerny and Clarke were gunned down at home plate, limiting the damage for the United States.
“When you play this team (US) you might not get opportunities to score so we had to take those chances early,” said Hamilton.
Cerantola settled in after the first, save for a solo homer off the bat of Triston Casas in the third, and worked five innings that included seven strikeouts before giving way to reliever Cade Smith (Abbotsford, B.C.).
Canada chased U.S. starter Kumar Rocker from the game in the fourth and in came Landon Marceaux who shut Canada down for 3 1/3 innings that included working his way out of a bases loaded jam in the seventh by getting a double play.
Down 5-1 in the eighth, Noah Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) and Archer Brookman (Pointe-Claire, Que.) connected on back-to-back doubles to bring in one run before Willow cashed in another on an RBI ground out.
Any hopes of a comeback were dashed in the bottom of the inning however as a Lucas Parente (Burlington, Ont.) error in left, followed by a pair of walks all scored when Casas doubled to centre that put the Americans in front by five.
Just as they’ve done earlier in the tournament, Canada must move on from a loss and focus on another crucial contest with the chance to play in a medal game on Sunday still well within reach.
“Japan is certainly a tough opponent so it is important again to move on and be ready to play tomorrow,” said Hamilton.
Live streaming for tomorrow’s game will be available via the WBSC’s YouTube channel.