For the first time this week, Canada has suffered a loss at the 2018 WBSC Junior Men’s Softball World Championship in Prince Albert.
After being shutout 2-0 by Australia Friday night at Rotary Field, the tournament hosts will need to top Argentina at 3 p.m. Saturday to earn a spot in the quarter-final or have their week come to an end.
“It’s disappointing but it’s not the end of the world for us,” Canada coach Jeff Ellsworth said. “I told the boys in the huddle after the game that we worked hard all week to earn that double life just in case something like this happens.
“It’s a long 10-day tournament and the bats will go cold at some point like they did for us tonight. We got good pitching and had runners in good scoring positions, but we just didn’t produce.”
While the Canadians left seven runners on base, they were unable to solve Australia pitcher Layton Reid, who threw a complete game shutout and struck out 16 batters.
“Layton was hitting his spots out there…but I think we could have had a better plan at the plate,” Ellsworth said.
“We were free swinging and going after balls that were outside of the zone, which allowed him to get ahead in the count.”
As he looked back on his performance, Reid believed that getting the chance to take to the mound on Rotary Field a day earlier against Japan played a key role in his dominant outing.
“It’s a little bit different than the other diamond (Kinsmen Field) as there’s a little bit more of a slope, so that changes the strike zone up,” Reid said.
“That helped me out a lot and I felt really good after striking out the side in the first inning. I was throwing well and my teammates were always cheering me on.”
Australia took the lead in the fourth inning when Jett Wright scored on a passed ball, while Christopher Plain would get a key run in the top of the seventh frame on a RBI triple.
“We only had three hits tonight, but we were able to get a walk with Jett in the fourth inning,” Australia coach Robert Harrow said.
“We stress to our guys all the time that a walk is as good as a hit, and it paid true tonight.”
With the win, Australia will take on Japan Saturday at 5:30 p.m. for a spot in Sunday’s gold medal game.
The two sides squared off Thursday with Japan coming away with a 3-2 win.
“We know that we’ll see some quality pitching once again from them,” Harrow said. “They have some really good hitters and good speed, but I think we’ll be better prepared for that.”
Meanwhile, Canada will need to keep their title quest alive against an Argentina side that has won their last five games and eliminated the United States in a 9-2 affair Friday.
“They were in the other group but we got to see them play a little bit,” Ellsworth said. “They are a talented team that is very well coached and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
The winner of that encounter will advance to the quarter-final at 8 p.m. to play either Mexico or New Zealand.
Japan improved their record to 7-0 with a 6-4 win over New Zealand Friday evening, thanks in large part to a three RBI performance by Ayumu Nishimori.
The designated player hit a solo home run in the second inning, a triple in the fourth inning and a double in the sixth inning that would later set up a go-ahead RBI single by Hiroki Chikamori.
“We’re really happy with how we played and we’re also happy that the fans enjoyed it,” coach Yukihiro Tanaka said through a translator. “It was a really good game.”
Although Nishimori was the standout player for the defending gold medalists, Tanaka also singled out the performance of shortstop Hiroshi Sakata, who brought home a run on a key double in the fifth inning.
“He’s the only member of our team who was on the roster two years ago when we won,” Tanaka said. “His leadership is very important to us.”
First baseman Shoki Matsuo also had a trio of hits for Japan, while Shota Onodera pitched all seven innings and struck out 11 batters.
Brad Carson had two hits and Reilly Makea hit a home run for New Zealand in the loss.
The Kiwis will look to keep their tournament going at 12:30 p.m. against Mexico, who knocked out the Czech Republic with a 4-2 win Friday.
In placement round action at Kinsmen Field, Hong Kong defeated Denmark 9-4, Guatemala edged South Africa 2-1, India beat Hong Kong 12-1 and South Africa topped Denmark 7-5.
- 9:30 a.m. – Hong Kong vs. South Africa – Kinsmen Field (Placement Round)
- 12 p.m. – India vs. Guatemala – Kinsmen Field (Placement Round)
- 12:30 p.m. – Mexico vs. New Zealand – Rotary Field (Playoff Round)
- 3 p.m. – Argentina vs. Canada – Rotary Field (Playoff Round)
- 5 p.m. – India/Guatemala loser vs. Hong Kong/South Africa winner – Kinsmen Field (Placement Round)
- 5:30 p.m. – Australia vs. Japan – Rotary Field (Playoff Round – Winner to Sunday’s Final)
- 7:30 p.m. – Winner of 5 p.m. game vs. India/Guatemala winner – Kinsmen Field (Placement Round)
- 8 p.m. – Mexico/New Zealand winner vs. Argentina/Canada winner – Rotary Field (Playoff Round)