The number six stood out amongst the rest on the scoreboard at Rotary Field Tuesday night.
That signified the number of runs that Canada was able to bring home during the top of the third inning as they took over first place in Group B at the 2018 WBSC Junior Men’s Softball World Championship after an 8-5 win over New Zealand.
“I don’t really know how to explain it other than we were able to put together some real quality at bats,” second baseman Dallas Kipfer said.
“We weren’t swinging at pitches that we’d normally swing and miss at, we kept putting the ball in play and we were able to capitalize on some mistakes they made on defence.”
After Harrison Valk gave New Zealand a 2-0 lead on a double in the bottom of the first frame, Noah Baker and Isaac Lefebvre would tie things up with back to back RBI singles.
With the bases loaded, Kipfer brought home two runners on a two-out single to give the tournament hosts the lead.
Brady Hogg and Rowan Sears would then draw bases loaded walks to complete Canada’s six-run inning.
“Even though we were down on the scoreboard, we knew that with how hot our sticks have been this week that we would have chances to get runs,” Kipfer said.
“We just needed to stay composed and we were able to do our job.”
Although Canada would extend their lead in the late innings on a RBI double from Jordan Pomeroy and dash home from Kipfer after a wild pitch, New Zealand would not fade quietly into the night.
Harrison Valk hit a solo shot in the fourth inning and top ranked team in the world was able to load the bases in the sixth before Sunday’s no-hit hero Riley Manion struck out Jared Gillard to end the rally.
New Zealand solved Manion with a two-out single from Huw Davies that cut the gap to three runs in the seventh, but that would be as close as they would get as Canada improved to 4-0 for the week.
“Our pitching staff is what stood out to me tonight,” coach Jeff Ellsworth said. “We started the game with David Watson, brought in Owen Torrie later on and then had Riley come in to shut the door.
“We knew coming into this tournament that we have six strong throwers in our lineup and that in any given night they could all be called upon to get the job done.”
Kipfer led the way on offence for Canada with two hits and two RBI’s, while Watson struck out two batters in three innings of work.
Valk had three RBI’s in the loss for New Zealand, as they fell to second in Group B with a 3-1 record.
After an off day Wednesday, Canada will have a chance to clinch top spot in their pool Thursday as they’ll play Hong Kong at 8 p.m. at Rotary Field.
“We’re pretty happy about being 4-0 and coming away with the win against New Zealand, but we can’t take Hong Kong lightly if we want to get first in our group,” Kipfer added.
Hong Kong has an 0-4 record and were knocked out of the playoff picture Wednesday after a 13-0 loss to the Czech Republic.
The other Group B game Tuesday saw the United States improve to 2-2 to sit tied with the Czech Republic for third place after a 3-0 win over Guatemala, who is in fifth place with a 1-3 mark.
The Czechs will square off with the United States Thursday, while Guatemala will face New Zealand.
Although it only counts as an RBI single in the official stat sheet, Peter Nussbaum helped his team earn a win in dramatic style Tuesday.
The Australia centre fielder scurried around the bases at Kinsmen Field for an inside the park grand slam in the sixth inning, but only one run was needed for his side as they picked up an 8-1 win over Mexico.
With the win, the four-time world champions improved to 4-0 in Group A play and kept pace with the reigning gold medalists Japan, who cruised to a 16-5 triumph over South Africa earlier in the day.
While those two have separated from the pack, the race for the final two playoff spots is still up for grabs between Argentina, India, Mexico and South Africa.
Argentina picked up a 3-1 win over Denmark in the other Group A contest Tuesday, which eliminated the Danes from the playoff mix.
Group A Standings
- Australia – 4-0
- Japan – 4-0
- Argentina – 2-2
- Mexico – 2-2
- India – 1-2
- South Africa – 1-3
- Denmark – 0-5
Group B Standings
- Canada – 4-0
- New Zealand – 3-1
- Czech Republic – 2-2
- United States – 2-2
- Guatemala – 1-3
- Hong Kong – 0-4
Wednesday’s Schedule (All Games at Rotary Field)
- 12:30 p.m. – Japan vs. India
- 3 p.m. – Australia vs. South Africa
- 5:30 p.m. – India vs. Denmark
- 8 p.m. – Argentina vs. Mexico