National Championships: Day 10 Recap

  • August 21, 2008

OTTAWA – The final leg of the Baseball Canada National Championships got under way today with the Senior Men and Peewee divisions.  The Peewee championship will see some added strategy as a new pitch-count rule is in effect for pitchers. At the Peewee Championship in Vaughan, Ontario, the final game of the day between Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan was suspended due to a malfunction with the lights on the field and will be completed on Friday. As for the rest of the schedule, all games were completed on time which was mostly high scoring affairs. Québec opened their tournament with a pair of lopsided wins, first by a score of 11-1 over Alberta, then a 24-6 drubbing of Prince Edward Island.  The host team from Vaughan also went undefeated on day one the Peewee Championship with an 11-7 win over Prince Edward Island and then outlasting New Brunswick by a score of 15-11.  The Ontario came out on top in their lone game of the day, a 14-0 shutout of Newfoundland & Labrador. In other action, British Columbia defeated New Brunswick 10-0, Nova Scotia crushed Newfoundland & Labrador 19-4 and Saskatchewan trampled Manitoba 14-3. At the Senior Men’s Championship in Brandon, Manitoba, Rob Mancini (Windsor, ON) got a two-RBI pinch hit in the bottom of the sixth inning to lift Ontario over Alberta by a score of 2-1. Ontario 2 was not as fortunate as British Columbia would jump out to a 5-0 lead and hold on to win by a score of 6-3.  Jon Bosnick (Burnaby, BC), Steve Bailey (Victoria, BC) and Lance Burrows (Victoria, BC) all scored a pair of runs in the game. Buddy Mayert (Brandon, MB) was 3-for-3 with two runs and an RBI in a losing cause as his Manitoba team would fall to Nova Scotia by a score of 9-5.  Nova Scotia scored four runs in the top of the seventh to take this tightly contested matchup. In other action, Québec went 2-0 to open the tournament with a 3-1 win over New Brunswick and a 7-3 victory over host Brandon.  Nova Scotia would also jump to 2-0 with a 6-2 win over Newfoundland & Labrador in their second game.  Newfoundland would not fair any better in their second game as they would fall to British Columbia by a score of 5-3. Click here for complete Baseball Canada National Championships coverage.

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Canada Ends Olympics with Extra-Inning Loss to Taipei

  • August 20, 2008

BEIJING – There would be no story book ending for the Canadian Olympic Team, despite their best efforts. Canada came back to force extra-innings, but they could not hold off Chinese Taipei as the Canadians would suffer yet another one-run loss in their final preliminary game at the 2008 Olympic Summer Games by a score of 6-5 in 12 innings. New rules installed by the IBAF for the Olympics state that after the 10th inning, the offensive team would put runners on first and second in order to try and speed up the finish. So with the game tied at 5-5 in the top of the 12th inning, with runners on first and second to start the frame, Chih-Hsien Chiang drove in the go-ahead run off of Chris Reitsma (Calgary, AB) to give Taipei a 6-5 lead. With Matt Rogelstad (New Westminster, BC) on second and Scott Thorman (Cambridge, ON) on first to start the bottom of the 12th for Canada, Fu-Te Ni and Chih-Chia Chang combined to strikeout the side and preserve the win for Taipei. “Well, it certainly isn’t what we baseball people are trained to compete in, but it is what it is,” says Olympic team Manager Terry Puhl of the new extra-inning format. “Do I like it? No. Nor would I like it even if we win.” Taipei got on the board first in the top of the first inning on a sacrifice fly from Kuo-Hui Lo to give his team the early 1-0 lead. Canada responded in the bottom half of the inning on a pair of RBI singles from Nick Weglarz (Stevensville, ON) and Thorman to give the Canadians a 2-1 advantage. That lead was short lived as Taipei would score four runs in the top of the second inning on the strength of two home runs, a leadoff solo-shot from Chih-Sheng Lin and a two-run blast from Chun-Chang Yeh to give Taipei a 5-2 lead. But Canada would start chipping away at that lead in the bottom of the second when Adam Stern (London, ON) led off the inning with a single and would come in to score on a pair of throwing errors on a sacrifice bunt from Emmanuel Garcia (Montreal, QC) and cut the lead to two. Stern and Garcia would pair up again in the fourth inning when Stern hit a triple, followed by an RBI ground out by Garcia to bring the Canadians within one. The Canadians would complete the comeback in the seventh inning when Stubby Clapp (Windsor, ON) hit a solo-home run, his first of the tournament, to tie the game 5-5. “We played a good game and we battled back,” says Stern, who was 2-for-5 with a triple and two runs scored. “It was awesome to see Stubby hit a bomb and in the end we played good baseball to win.” “The whole at-bat I was trying to hit the ball hard, maybe get a double, but I just got lucky and got on top of it and away she went,” says Clapp of his home run. Although Canada was able to erase a three-run deficit to force extra innings, they were unable to carry that momentum into the extra frames and Taipei was able to capitalize in the 12th inning and end up on top. Canada finishes their second Olympic tournament with a 2-5 record, but all five losses were by one-run which is a statement to the symmetry of the competition at the Olympic tournament. “This was the deepest Olympic tournament, talent wise, ever,” says Clapp. “These guys know that they can compete with the best in the world and win. When you really look back at it, we were one hit away from going to the medal round, literally. It speaks volumes of this program and of these guys on this team.” “It’s difficult to say that there is really one team that is so much better than the rest,” says Puhl. “From game one to game seven, we played some really good baseball, but it just didn’t work out. I can never say anything negative about the effort that these players have given, not only for this team but for this country. I can never ask for a better bunch of guys.” The Canadian Olympic Team will make their way back to North America on August 24th where the players will return to their respective clubs and finish out the 2008 season. The next time the Senior National Team will get together will be for the World Baseball Classic which will take place in March, 2009.

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Canada Blanks the Netherlands

  • August 19, 2008

BEIJING – The Canadian offence came alive and the Canadian pitchers were virtually untouchable as Canada would put one in the win column with a 4-0 victory over the Netherlands at the 2008 Olympic Summer Games. After being blanked the previous game, Canada returned the favour today with an outstanding performance from their pitchers, combining to give up only a pair of hits and one walk, while striking out eight Dutch hitters. “It was a more complete ballgame today,” says Olympic team Manager Terry Puhl. “That was one of our better pitching performances. (Brooks) McNiven set the stage. We put a few runs up and closed it out and played a complete ballgame.” The aforementioned Brooks McNiven (Vernon, BC) got things started on the mound and went six strong innings, allowing only one hit with a pair of strikeouts. McNiven had a no-hitter going until Roel Koolen stroked a single in the sixth inning to break up the no-no. “I just tried to go out there and get ahead of them,” says McNiven, who picked up the win. “The difference for me today from the game against Cuba is I was ahead and threw alot of first pitch strikes and I pitched for ground balls.” Then, three different hurlers would finish what McNiven started as Jonathan Lockwood (Toronto, ON), Rheal Cormier (Moncton, NB) and T.J. Burton (Ottawa, ON) would each pitch an inning to help preserve the win. Lockwood struck out two while retiring the side in order in seventh. Cormier gave up a walk, but struck out Sidney de Jong and got Eugene Kingsale to ground into the double-play to end the eighth. And Burton allowed a leadoff single to Percy Isenia, but he would then strikeout the side to end the game. “Our bullpen came in and they did good work,” says Puhl of his relievers. “Our bullpen has one of the strengths of this team in this tournament and today they proved that again.” Offensively, Canada put some points on the board in the third inning. Matt Rogelstad (New Westminster, BC) drove in Emmanuel Garcia (Montreal, QC) on a ground out to give Canada a 1-0 lead. The Canadians gave themselves a cushion in the fourth inning by scoring a pair of runs on a RBI triple from Emerson Frostad (Calgary, AB) and a sacrifice fly from Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) to put Canada up front 3-0. “We were able to put guys on and cash them in today”, says Frostad, who was 2-for-4 in this game. “We played a good game and capitalized on our chances.” A two-out RBI single from Jimmy VanOstrand (Richmond, BC) to score Mike Saunders (Victoria, BC), who had doubled, in the eighth inning completed the scoring for the Canadians, giving them a four-run lead. Canada, who is still mathematically in the hunt for a spot in the medal round, will now look to finish strong in their final preliminary game against Chinese Taipei. “We’re still going to go out there and take care of business,” says Matt Rogelstad, who drove in the winning run today. “We want to go out and prove that we are one of the top teams here, even though the standings may not be indicative of that, but we still want to go out and play for the country and make Canada proud.” Canada will take on Chinese Taipei on Wednesday, August 20th at 6:00 pm, local time in Beijing. For those following in Canada, game time is at 6:00 am Eastern time on Wednesday morning.

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Canada Blanked by Japan at Olympics

  • August 18, 2008

BEIJING - The Canadian offence could not get anything going as it now becomes a steeper climb for Canada to make the medal round at the 2008 Olympic Summer Games as they would be shutout by Japan by a score of 1-0. In what was an eerily similar game than their third contest of the Olympic Games against Korea, Canada could not solve the pitcher on the mound for Japan Yoshihisa Naruse as he would go seven strong innings, allowing only two hits while striking out 10. “It was a well pitched ballgame on both sides,” says Olympic team Manager Terry Puhl. “We just need to create some offence. Whatever you need to do to get more opportunities to score is what we need.” Canadian starter Chris Begg (Uxbridge, ON) was solid in the loss, going pitch for pitch with Naruse. Begg would allow only one run, a fourth inning home run to Atsunori Inabi over five and one third innings on the mound. “He was outstanding for us today,” says Canadian captain Stubby Clapp (Windsor, ON). “Unfortunately we didn’t do anything to help him out today. We couldn’t get on base and when we did we couldn’t capitalize.” Canada did not generate any offence in this game, threatening only once in the bottom of the fourth when Emmanuel Garcia (Montreal, QC) and Mike Saunders (Victoria, BC) were on second and third with one out. But Naruse would get out of the jam by striking out Scott Thorman (Cambridge, ON) and Nick Weglarz (Stevensville, ON) to end the threat. David Davidson (St. Catherines, ON) and Steve Green (Longueuil, QC) kept Canada in the ballgame in relief. Davidson allowed only a walk in two and two thirds innings with a pair of strikeouts. Green pitched the ninth where Japan threatened to add to their lead with a runner on third and nobody out, but the right-hander got Masahiko Morino and Takahiro Arai to ground out and struck out Shuichi Murata to end the inning. However, the Canadians could not get anything going in the ninth as Japanese closer Koji Uehara retired the side in order to preserve the victory and give Canada another one-run loss. “All we can do now is go back and see how it all plays out,” says Puhl. “We’ll come out tomorrow and compete and play the way Team Canada is supposed to play.” Canada now needs help to keep their medal hopes alive and must win their remaining two games, starting with the Netherlands on Tuesday, August 19th. Game time is at 10:30 am local time in Beijing. For those following in Canada, game time is at 10:30 pm Eastern time on Monday night.

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National Championships: Junior Finals

  • August 18, 2008

OTTAWA – The gold and bronze medal games took place today at the Junior Championship in Charlottetown, PEI as Baseball Canada crowned its sixth National Champion of 2008. Québec and British Columbia battled it out for the gold. Québec would jump out to a 3-0 lead, scoring two runs in the first inning and one in the third inning off British Columbia starter Eric Brown (Vancouver, BC). British Columbia would respond in the bottom of the third by reducing the lead to one on a double from Scott Belinski (Kelowna, BC), a wild pitch by Mathew Langton (Pointe-Claire, QC) and three straight singles, including an RBI single from Cory Smith (Kelowna, BC) to make it 3-2. However, that would all the scoring in the game as Québec would hold on to capture the gold medal in a 3-2 win. It would take nine innings to decide the bronze medal game between Ontario and Québec 2 as Josh Federico (Amherstburg, ON) would come score in the top of the ninth to break a scoreless tie on a RBI single from Brian Simone (Amherstburg, ON) and they would hold on to win the bronze medal by a score of 1-0. It was a pitcher’s duel between Mike Delong (Windsor, ON) and François Lafreniere (St-Bruno, QC). Both would pitch the complete game, but Delong would come out on top of this battle of hurlers. Delong gave up only three hits and three walks, while striking out 11. Lafreniere allowed one run on seven hits with nine strikeouts over eight and two thirds innings. Click here for complete Baseball Canada National Championships coverage.

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National Championships: Day 9 Recap

  • August 17, 2008

OTTAWA – Two National Champions were crowned at the Baseball Canada National Championships, while one champion will be decided on Monday due to rain today. Ontario captured the Baseball Canada Cup in Medicine Hat, Alberta on the strength of two three-run innings and a three RBI performance from Andrew Firth (London, ON) to defeat British Columbia 8-6. New Brunswick scored eight runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, highlighted by a bases clearing double by Daniel McNeil (Salisbury, NB) to cash in three runs on route to capturing the bronze medal in a surprising 13-8 win over Québec. Ontario and British Columbia would battle it out for gold at the Bantam Boys Championship in Mascouche, Québec with this time British Columbia coming out on top to take home the gold with a 4-3 win over Ontario. In the bronze medal matchup, it would be Lanaudiere who come out on top, solidifying third place with a 6-3 victory over Saskatchewan. The Junior Championship in Charlottetown, PEI saw some inclement weather push back the gold and bronze medal to Monday, but not before the matchups for those games was decided. A wild pitch in the bottom of the tenth inning allowed Scott Belinski (Kelowna, BC) to score the winning run and put British Columbia in the gold medal game with a 2-1 win over Ontario. Brandon Kaye (Langley, BC) was outstanding on the mound for B.C. as he would pitch nine innings, allowing only one run on five hits with a pair of strikeouts in his outing. It was the battle of Québec in the second semi-final, but Québec would score ten runs in the first inning and never look back as they would move on to the gold medal game with a 14-2 win over Québec 2 in five innings. Guillaume Dupont-Duguay (Trois-Rivières, QC) threw the complete game for Québec, allowing two runs on six hits with seven strikeouts. Jonathan Lussier (Ste. Thérèse, QC) led the way offensively with four RBI. British Columbia will take on Québec for gold on Monday at 12:00 pm, while Ontario and Québec 2 will battle it out for bronze at 9:00 am. Click here for complete Baseball Canada National Championships coverage.

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Setback for Canada at Olympics

  • August 16, 2008

BEIJING – The Canadian Olympic Team’s medal hopes took a huge hit today as Canada would suffer another heartbreaking loss, this time at the hands of the United States by a score of 5-4 at the 2008 Olympic Summer Games. The Canadians would take an early 4-0 lead, however they could not hold on to that lead as the Americans would score five unanswered runs to steal this one from the Canadians and them in a deep hole to reach the medal round. “Right now we’re trying to play a complete ballgame,” says Olympic team Manager Terry Puhl. “We hit the ball really well today and got the matchups we wanted on the mound, but their hitters got some clutch hits.” “We need to score early, keep scoring and not shut it down,” says Team Canada mainstay Stubby Clapp (Windsor, ON). “We’ve got to keep the pressure on and not let them off the hook. International baseball is so unpredictable that you have to play with them pitch for pitch no matter what the score because anything can happen.” Canada started this game on fire, opening the scoring in the second inning on a RBI double from Emerson Frostad (Calgary, AB) to score Nick Weglarz (Stevensville, ON) and give the Canadians a 1-0 lead. The Canadians would add to that lead in the third inning, one coming on a RBI triple from Emmanuel Garcia (Montreal, QC). Garcia would later score on a RBI ground out from Mike Saunders (Victoria, BC) to allow Canada to take a three run advantage. That advantage would increase to four runs in the fourth inning when Adam Stern (London, ON) drove in Matt Rogelstad (New Westminster, BC) with an RBI single to put the Canadians comfortably ahead. The Americans would begin to chip away at that lead in the bottom of the fourth, beginning with a leadoff home run from Brian Barden off of Canadian starter James Avery (Moose Jaw, SK). They would add a second run in the frame on a John Gall RBI single, cutting the Canadian lead in half. Canada would see their lead drop to one in the fifth inning as Terry Tiffee would drive in the third American run on a double and make it 4-3. The Americans would complete the comeback in the seventh inning as back-to-back RBI doubles from Braden and Tiffee and the U.S. ahead by a score of 5-4. The Canadians would threaten in the ninth inning, as they have the previous two games, however they could not cash in the tying run and Canada is now on the outside looking in for a spot in the medal round. “We have to run the table. We have no choice now,” says Puhl. “We’re going to take it one at a time and not look ahead of ourselves.” “We’re not playing poorly,” adds Puhl, “we’ve just found ourselves on the wrong end of some really good ballgames.” “The fact that there is still hope and that we’re not completely eliminated will give us motivation to get back up tomorrow,” says Clapp. “We need to win the rest of our games and it starts with our next one against Japan.” The Olympic Team will now have a day off to rest before they make their climb toward a spot in the playoffs, starting with their next opponent Japan on Monday, August 18th at 10:30 am local time in Beijing. For those following in Canada, game time is on Sunday at 10:30 pm Eastern time.

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National Championships: Day 8 Recap

  • August 16, 2008

OTTAWA – The semi-finals are set in two of the three Baseball Canada National Championships that are underway, while the third will have the matchups decided on Sunday, on route to crowning three more National Champions. At the Baseball Canada Cup in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Ontario captured the top spot in Pool A putting up eight runs in the third inning on route to a 11-6 win over Québec. Eight of the nine hitters in the Ontario line-up got at least one hit in this game. In Pool B, New Brunswick earned first place by virtue of their 10-3 win over Newfoundland & Labrador. Mike Washburn (Fredericton, NB) went 4-for-4 with three RBI to lead his team to the win. Ontario and New Brunswick will now face-off in semi-final number one. By virtue of their 3-0 win over Saskatchewan, British Columbia solidified second place in Pool A and awaited the winner between Québec, who finished third in Pool A, and Alberta, who finished second in Pool B. Québec would jump out to a 6-0 lead, including a four-run second inning highlighted by three RBI doubles from Jonathan Cyr (Montreal, QC), Samuel Domingue (Québec, QC) and Alexandre Béland (Trois-Rivières, QC). Alberta would reduce the lead to one with a five-run fourth inning with the help of three-run triple from Scott Gerun (Westlock, AB) to make it 6-5. After trading two-run innings in the sixth to make it 8-7 for Québec, Alberta had one final shot to extend this game, but Jonathan Paquet (Ancienne Lorette, QC) struck out the side in the seventh inning to preserve the win for Québec. At the Bantam Boys Championship in Mascouche, Québec, British Columbia sealed their first place finish in Pool A with an unbelievable 36-1 slaughter of Newfoundland & Labrador. They scored an incredible 29 runs in the first inning in a game that lasted only three innings. Ontario captured first place in Pool B with an 11-0 win over Nova Scotia. Now British Columbia and Ontario were awaiting their opponents in the semi-finals. In the first quarter-final, Lanaudiere defeated Québec by a score to 4-1 to earn their spot in the semis, while Saskatchewan took out Manitoba 9-1 to earn a date with Ontario in the semi-finals. At the Junior Championship in Charlottetown, PEI, only one spot in the semi-final has been decided as British Columbia earned first place in Pool B. Ontario and Québec 2 will be moving on to the semi-finals in Pool A, however their seeding is yet to be determined, and they will play each other on Sunday to determine first and second. Second place in Pool B will be determined between Québec and Prince Edward Island, with an outside chance for Nova Scotia. It will all be sorted out on Sunday. Click here for complete Baseball Canada National Championships coverage.

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Canada Shut Down By Korea

  • August 15, 2008

BEIJING – The Canadian Olympic Team could not generate any offence today, as they could not solve the Korean pitcher and one hit was the difference as Canada would fall at the hands of Korea by a score of 1-0 at the 2008 Olympic Summer Games. This game was a pitcher’s duel throughout as Mike Johnson (Edmonton, AB) went pitch for pitch with Korean starter Hyunjin Ryu. However it would be Ryu who would end up with the upper hand as he would pitch the complete game shutout for the win. “I just wanted to go deep into the ballgame and give us a chance to win,” says Johnson. “(Ryu) pitched really well, it was a really good head-to-head battle and I made one mistake and it was the difference in the ballgame.” Johnson had solid outing to counter Ryu, going six strong innings, allowing one run on three hits with four walks and struck out three. Johnson’s only blemish came in the third inning when Keunwoo Jeong would take a pitch deep over the left field wall for what would turn out to be the only run of the game. “It’s a tough one to swallow,” says Johnson. “One pitch and the guy capitalized on it and, again, it turned out to be the difference of the ballgame.” David Davidson (St. Catherines, ON) and T.J. Burton (Ottawa, ON) kept Canada in this game, both coming in the game in relief. Davidson threw two and one third innings of no-hit baseball, allowing only one walk with a pair of strikeouts. Burton made easy work of the Koreans in the top of the ninth, pitching two thirds with one strikeout. Canada did have some opportunities to tie this game, putting the tying run on third base in the sixth, eighth and ninth innings, but on all three occasions they could not cash the runner in. “We just couldn’t execute in key situations and it came back to bite us,” says Olympic team Manager Terry Puhl. Canada’s biggest chance to tie this game was in the ninth inning when they would get the tying run in scoring position with one, eventually loading the bases with two outs but Ryu got Ryan Radmanovich (Calgary, AB) to fly out to center field to end the game. Canada now faces a tough test as their next opponent will be the United States. Both teams will be entering this matchup with a 1-2 record and are facing a must-win situation. “We’ve had a couple of tough losses the last two nights, but the best thing we can do is put it behind us and come out and play our style of baseball and battle,” says Johnson. Canada will face-off with the United States on Saturday, August 16th at 10:30 am local time in Beijing. For those following in Canada, game time is Friday night at 10:30 pm Eastern time.

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National Championships: Day 7 Recap

  • August 15, 2008

OTTAWA - There were a lot of exciting finishes today at the Baseball Canada National Championships as teams are trying to stake their claims for playoff spots. At the Baseball Canada Cup in Medicine Hat, Alberta, it took 11 innings to decide the day’s opening matchup between British Columbia and Ontario as Trevor Barton (London, ON) finally decided it with an RBI single to give Ontario the 4-3 win. A solo-home run by Sasha Lagarde (Pierrefonds, QC) in the top of the eighth inning lifted Québec to a 2-1 win over British Columbia. In a battle between Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia erased a two-run deficit by scoring a pair of runs in the top of the seventh inning, but would see that effort slip away as Alex Abbott (Charlottetown, PEI) would come in to score on an error in the bottom half of the frame to give PEI a 6-5 win. Alberta entered the bottom of the seventh inning against New Brunswick down by two, but they were able to reduce that deficit to one as Mitch Frey (Medicine Hat, AB) would score and give his team new life. But that is as close as they would get as Ben Sollows (Moncton, NB) would finish off Alberta with a strikeout to end the game and give New Brunswick the 6-5 win. On the other side of the spectrum, Manitoba overwhelmed Newfoundland & Labrador by a score of 29-1. Manitoba would score nine runs in the third inning and 11 runs in the fourth inning. Brenden Shearer (Winnipeg, MB) was 3-for-6 with seven RBI. In other action, Ontario defeated Saskatchewan 11-1 and Québec beat Sakatchewan 9-3. At the Junior Championship in Charlottetown, PEI, the host team and Newfoundland & Labrador battled it out for 13 innings when Luke Carmichael (Charlottetown, PEI) drove in the winning run in the top of the 13th to give Prince Edward Island a 6-5. In the remaining games, Ontario went 2-0 with a 6-2 win over New Brunswick and a 12-0 hammering of Saskatchewan. Québec defeated Newfoundland 12-0, while Québec 2 beat New Brunswick 8-2. Saskatchewan shutout Manitoba 2-0 and British Columbia topped Nova Scotia 6-1. At the Bantam Boys Championship in Mascouche, Québec, Daryl Blaskovitch (Bretnwood Bay, BC) drove in the winning run in the bottom of the seventh to give British Columbia a 3-2 win over Saskatchewan. Benoit Frenière, Jr. (Le Gardeur, QC) and Maxime Lapointe (Lachenaie, QC) combined to throw a two-hit shutout to lead Lanaudiere over Newfoundland & Labrador to a 9-0 win. In other action, New Brunswick went 2-0 today to even their record for the tournament with a 9-4 win over Alberta and a 6-0 victory over Newfoundland & Labrador. In a high scoring affair, Québec beat Prince Edward Island 14-8, while Ontario improved to 3-0 in the tournament by doubling Manitoba 6-3. Manitoba rebounded with a 8-5 win over Nova Scotia, British Columbia won their second game of the day by a score of 7-3 over Alberta and Saskatchewan shutout Lanaudiere 3-0 to conclude the day`s schedule. Click here for complete Baseball Canada National Championships coverage.

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