Canada ousts Argentina

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Home plate umpire called Argentina runner Leonel Dardanelli out after he was tagged by Canadian catcher Brendan Hagerman.

Canada’s quest to capture the 2018 WBSC Junior Men’s Softball World Championship is still alive.

Thanks to a 6-4 victory over Argentina at Rotary Field Saturday afternoon, the tournament hosts will now prepare to take on New Zealand in a quarter-final game tonight at 8 p.m. where the winner will be guaranteed to take home a medal.

“We’re glad to get this win over Argentina, but the day’s not over yet,” second baseman Dallas Kipfer said.

“We got by New Zealand once already this week in the round-robin, but we’ll need to keep playing like we have in order to beat them again.”

Unlike Friday’s playoff opener where they struck out 16 times in a 2-0 loss to Australia, the Canadians were much more selective when it came to swinging at pitches against Argentina.

“I don’t know if we were a little too eager or what against Australia, but it certainty wasn’t a good game for us at the plate and that was against one of the best pitchers (Leyton Reid) that we’ve seen at this tournament,” Kipfer said.

“We were able to zone in on the ball a lot better today and that allowed us to get runners on base.”

Kipfer played a big part in Canada’s offensive attack as he hit a two-run shot to centre field in the third inning to give the hosts a 5-1 lead.

“It felt good off of the bat and I knew it was a deep shot,” Kipfer said.

“I looked over towards their centre fielder and he had stopped running…I knew then that it was going to be a home run.”

Brendan Hagerman, Noah Baker and Brady Hogg also drove runs home in the win, which saw starting pitcher Riley Manion strike out six batters in four and a third innings of work.

Lucio Retamar had a pair of hits and two runs batted in the loss for Argentina, who had won their last five games ahead of Saturday’s matchup.

Although they beat New Zealand by a score of 8-5 in a round-robin matchup Tuesday, Canada will be going up against a Kiwi side that is coming off of an 8-0 rout over Mexico earlier Saturday.

“New Zealand is the number one team in the world for a reason,” Kipfer said. “They are a very good ball club and we’ll need to cash in our scoring opportunities like we did Tuesday.”

Riley Makea led the way for New Zealand in their win over Mexico with two hits, two runs batted in and 10 strikeouts.

Australia and Japan were taking to the field at 5:45 p.m. for a spot in Sunday’s gold medal game.