Canada opens Worlds with a win

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Team Canada salutes the crowd at Rotary Field Saturday during the opening ceremonies for the 2018 Junior Men's Softball World Championship.

All it took was one swing of the bat in the bottom of the second inning to turn things around for Canada Saturday night at Rotary Field.

Trailing 3-1 to the United States after an inning and a half, a three-run home run from the bat of designated player Brady Hogg gave the Canadians a lead they would never relinquish as they opened up the 2018 Junior Men’s World Softball Championship with a 10-3 victory.

“I went up to the plate with a plan,” Hogg said.

“I knew that they were going to throw to the outside of the plate, so I went with it and I was able to come up with a big hit for our team.”

After an RBI single in the bottom of the first inning by Troy Kosmyka gave Canada an early lead, the Americans quickly responded in the next half inning.

Anthony Wark hit a leadoff bomb down the left field line to tie things up for the visitors, who would take the lead a few batters later after a pair of bases loaded walks from Canadian pitcher Owen Torrie.

Hogg’s homer quickly changed the momentum of the contest, as the Americans were unable to muster much offence after that and the Canadians would wrap things up with a six-run outburst in the bottom of the sixth inning.

“I liked the way that the boys rebounded after getting behind early,” Canada head coach Jeff Ellsworth said. “We had some good quality at-bats and Brady’s homer really injected some life into us, which is something that we kept building on the rest of the way.”

Isaac Lefebvre, Dallas Kipfer and Paul Hackerman all had pair of hits in the win, while Hogg paced the offence with three runs batted in.

“We kept a positive attitude the whole time and I think that made a big difference,” Hogg said.

“The crowd that we had here was a huge help for us as well. The fans were great tonight.”

Torrie went five and a third innings on the mound and struck out 12 American batters in addition to limiting the visitors to three hits.

Nathen Landry, who is from Nova Scotia and has duel citizenship, pitched the whole game for the United States and had two strikeouts in the loss.

Canada will look to continue their winning ways Sunday at Rotary Field as they’ll take on the Czech Republic at 8 p.m.

“We’ve seen them play a couple of times now and they are a very well-coached team,” Ellsworth said.

“They swing the bat really well and their pitching is solid. We’ll be having the same approach as we did in our opener, which is to make sure that we are playing with consistency.”

The Czech Republic started off their tournament Saturday afternoon with a 7-0 shutout of Guatemala that saw starting pitcher Lukas Kubat limit his opponents to just two base hits.

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald
Japan’s Shota Onodera delivers a pitch against Argentina Saturday night at Kinsmen Field.

The other marquee matchup from the opening day of action also took place Saturday night as the defending champions Japan picked up a 5-2 win over Argentina at Kinsmen Field.

In what was a tightly contested affair, Japan scored runs in the third and fifth innings before crossing the plate three times in the bottom of sixth frame to build a five-run cushion.

Argentina, who won back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2014 before Japan reached the top of the podium two years ago, made thing interesting in the top of the seventh as they scored twice after going down to their final out.

Shota Onodera turned in a stellar performance on the mound for the reigning gold medalists as he held Argentina to three hits and struck out nine batters over seven innings.

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald
Felix Herrera of Mexico fires the ball during the opening game of the tournament against Denmark.

Round-robin action got underway Saturday morning with a dominant showing by Mexico as they received a four RBI contribution from Osuna Pena on their way to a 12-1 win over Denmark.

Denmark’s luck wouldn’t turn around in their second game of the day as South Africa scored three times in the bottom of the seventh inning for a dramatic 3-2 triumph.

Left fielder Jordan Atkin was the hero for South Africa as he hit a walk-off single to centre field with two outs.

Saturday’s other games saw New Zealand shutout Hong Kong 10-0 and Australia top India 4-1.

Australia’s Michael Ludkin struck out 10 batters over seven innings of work, while New Zealand’s Andre Hart had two hits and four RBI’s in his team’s win.

Round-Robin Standings

Group A

  1. Australia – 1-0
  2. Japan – 1-0
  3. Mexico – 1-0
  4. South Africa – 1-0
  5. Argentina – 0-1
  6. India – 0-1
  7. Denmark – 0-2

Group B

  1. Canada – 1-0
  2. Czech Republic – 1-0
  3. New Zealand – 1-0
  4. Guatemala – 0-1
  5. Hong Kong – 0-1
  6. United States – 0-1

Sunday’s Schedule

  • 12:30 p.m. – Mexico vs. India – Rotary Field
  • 3 p.m. – Hong Kong vs. Guatemala – Rotary Field
  • 5 p.m. – Japan vs. Denmark – Kinsmen Field
  • 5:30 p.m. – New Zealand vs. United States – Rotary Field
  • 7:30 p.m. – Australia vs. Argentina – Kinsmen Field
  • 8 p.m. – Canada vs. Czech Republic – Rotary Field