Two teams stand alone with unblemished records at the 2018 WBSC Junior Men’s Softball World Championship in Prince Albert.
Following the conclusion of round-robin play Thursday night, Japan posted a 6-0 record to finish first in Group A and Canada topped Group B with a perfect 5-0 mark.
The tournament hosts sealed the top spot in their pool in dominant fashion as they cruised to a 10-0 romp over Hong Kong in four innings.
“It’s been a really good week for us and the boys just keep rolling along,” first baseman and Warman product Troy Kosmynka said.
“The win against New Zealand was a huge milestone for us on Tuesday night, and our bats have been rolling right from that start. If we can keep that momentum going, I think it should be a really good weekend for us.”
It was a well balanced offensive attack for Canada in their round-robin finale as Dawson Sellick, Isaac Lefebvre, Mackenzie Fischer and Kosmynka all had a pair of RBI’s.
Fischer, who got the start on the mound for Canada, helped his cause with a solo shot in the third inning while Sellick matched that feat in the fourth.
“I was just trying to put the ball in play and I was lucky enough to get a good hit off of it,” said Fischer, who struck out eight batters and gave up a single hit in four innings of work.
“That was a really important win for us. Our goal tonight was to go into the playoffs on a high note and we did that.”
Canada will now play Australia Friday at 8 p.m. at Rotary Field with the winner advancing to the semifinals.
Thanks to their first place finish in Group B, a loss to the Aussies wouldn’t end the weekend for the tournament hosts, as they would have to lose two games to be knocked out of the playoffs thanks to being one of the top two teams in their group.
“It’s a good feeling to know we have that extra life,” Fischer said. “Our goal was to be in the top two spots going into the playoffs, then you feel more secure knowing that you have a second chance.”
The loser of the Canada and Australia matchup will face either Argentina or the United States in the quarter-final round Saturday.
New Zealand assured themselves of second in Group B and an extra life in the playoffs with a 10-0 win over Guatemala.
Meanwhile, the Czech Republic clinched third spot after a 6-5 triumph over the United States, who ended up in fourth place.
Japan, who are the defending world champions, finished off their round-robin slate with a 3-2 win over Australia that came down to the final inning.
Jacob King hit a two-out double to cut the gap down to one run in the bottom of the seventh, but Kaito Miyamoto would strike out Blake Jackson and Joshua Bond to seal the victory and set up a meeting with New Zealand Friday.
“The players have preformed very well all week,” coach Yukihiro Tanaka said through a translator.
“They’ve played like we have expected them to. It’s a very balanced lineup and it’s been good to see different players step up for us during the tournament.”
Yugo Kitagawa, Taiga Onishi and Mityamoto combined to strike out 11 Australia batters during the contest, while Hiroshi Sakata went three-for-three at the plate.
Earlier in the day, Argentina clinched third place in Group A with a 9-0 win over India while Mexico nabbed the final playoff spot with a 9-1 triumph over South Africa.
Final Round-Robin Standings
- Japan – 6-0
- Australia – 5-1
- Argentina – 4-2
- Mexico – 3-3
- India – 2-4
- South Africa – 1-5
- Denmark – 0-6
- Canada – 5-0
- New Zealand – 4-1
- Czech Republic – 3-1
- United States – 2-4
- Guatemala – 1-4
- Hong Kong – 0-5
- 12:00 p.m. – Denmark vs. Hong Kong – Kinsmen Field (Placement Round)
- 12:30 p.m. – Mexico vs. Czech Republic – Rotary Field (Playoff Round)
- 2:30 p.m. – South Africa vs. Guatemala – Kinsmen Field (Placement Round)
- 3 p.m. – Argentina vs. United States – Rotary Field (Playoff Round)
- 5 p.m. – Denmark/Hong Kong winner vs. India – Kinsmen Field (Placement Round)
- 5:30 p.m. – New Zealand vs. Japan – Rotary Field (Playoff Round)
- 7:30 p.m. – South Africa/Guatemala loser vs. Denmark/Hong Kong loser – Kinsmen Field (Placement Round)
- 8 p.m. – Australia vs. Canada – Rotary Field (Playoff Round)