Canada Falls Short Against Cuba

  • August 14, 2008

BEIJING – In what was a back and forth battle, Canada fell just short of a big upset in the 2008 Olympic Summer Games, dropping their second game of the tournament to Cuba by a score of 7-6. The start of this game was delayed by one hour and 30 minutes due to rain, but that did not slow down either one of these teams in this matchup. Cuba opened the scoring in the second inning scoring three runs in the frame against Canadian starter Brooks McNiven (Vernon, BC). Ariel Pestano got things strated with a sacrifice fly to score Cuba’s first run, followed by an RBI double from Eduardo Paret to put the Cubans ahead by two. Paret would then score on an error to give cuba a 3-0. Canada would cut into that lead right away in the top of the third inning on a two-run home run from Mike Saunders (Victoria, BC), his second homer of the Olympics, to get the Canadians within one. Canada would waste no time to come all the way back as Nick Weglarz (Stevensville, ON) hit a towering home run off the top of one of the flag poles in straight away centerfield to lead off the fourth inning and tie this game up 3-3. “It was a big momentum swing for us,” says Weglarz. “We played hard and we were able to get back into the game.” Weglarz would be at it again in the top of the sixth inning. With Scott Thorman on base after reaching on an error, Weglarz would go deep for the second time in the game, this time giving his team a 5-3 lead. “I was trying to move the runner over and I put a good swing on the ball and it went out,” says Weglarz, who was 4-for-4 with the two homers, three RBI and three runs scored against Cuba. That lead however would be short lived as a pair of two-run home runs, one from Alexander Malleta and the other from Alfredo Despaigne put Cuba ahead for the second time in the game, this time by a score of 7-5. “That was obviously a huge momentum swing for them,” says Olympic team Manager Terry Puhl. “But with this team you’re never out of it, especially a two-run defecit because we can turn things around with one swing of the bat. But this is something we will be working through.” Canada would not go down without a fight. Weglarz would come in to score after reaching on his fourth hit of the game, scoring on Brett Lawrie’s (Langley, BC) fielder’s choice to make it 7-6. But that would be as close as they would get as the Cubans would retire the Canadians in order in the top of the ninth to hold on for the win. “We played a heck of a game,” says Puhl. “Now we got to come back with the same intensity tomorrow. In a way this was a missed opportunity, but I’d rather have a missed opportunity early in the tournament than late.” Next up for Canada is another tough opponent in Korea, who has already surprised some people with an upset win over the United States to open their Olympic tournament, however, Puhl is ever confident in his team. “We’ve got a big job ahead of us, but I think we’ll come out with the same intensity as we did tonight and get the same quality at-bats as we did and if we do that we can handle them.” Canada will take on Korea on Friday, August 15th at 6:00 pm local time in Beijing. For those watching in Canada, game time will be at 6:00 am on Friday.

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National Championships: Day 6 Recap

  • August 14, 2008

OTTAWA – Two more Baseball Canada National Championship tournaments got underway today and one tournament’s playoff picture is becoming more jammed packed. The Junior Championship started off in Charlottetown, PEI with an exciting game to kickoff the tournament as New Brunswick would come back from a 4-0 deficit to win it in the bottom of the seventh inning by a score of 5-4 over Saskatchewan. After tying the game 4-4 in the fifth inning, New Brunswick executed a perfect seventh inning as David Crossman (Fredericton, NB) led off with a single, moved over to second on a sacrifice bunt from MacKenzie Washburn (Fredericton, NB) then driven in on a single from Ben Higgins (Moncton, NB) to win the game. Ben Bradford (Kamloops, BC) went 3-for-5 with four RBI to lead British Columbia over Prince Edward Island 11-0. In the rest of the day’s action, Québec defeated Nova Scotia 9-2, Québec 2 would go on to beat Manitoba 5-2 and the Manitoban team would not fair much better in their second game of the day, succumbing to Ontario by a score of 8-5. The Bantam Boys Championship got started in Mascouche, Québec and David Jalbert (Repentigny, QC) got his team off on the right foot, pitching six innings and allowing only one run on two hits with a pair of walks, while striking out eight to lead Lanaudiere over Alberta 4-1. Another outstanding pitching performance came from Michael Foster (Pickering, ON), who threw a complete game shutout, allowing only two hits and two walks and struck out an incredible 15 batters as Ontario would defeat Québec 2-0. In other action, Daniel Peakman (Victoria, BC) went 4-for-5 with four RBI as British Columbia would rout New Brunswick 14-3. Saskatchewan would go 2-0 on the day, beating Newfoundland & Labrador 4-2 and then drubbing Alberta 12-5. Ontario would also go 2-0 with an 8-4 win over Prince Edward Island and Lanaudiere would do the same with a 5-1 win over New Brunswick. Québec would make easy work of Manitoba, winning 11-0 and it would be a similar story for Nova Scotia who topped Prince Edward Island 10-0. On the second day of the Baseball Canada Cup, after everyone in pool A finished the first day 1-1, two teams jumped in the dirver’s seat while the other two will a little climbing to do to capture a medal round spot. Saskatchewan would hold on to beat British Columbia 3-2, while Travis Bondy (Windsor, ON) and Jasvir Rakkar (Brampton, ON) combined to throw a one-hit shutout to lead Ontario to a 6-0 win over Québec. In other action, it was a pitcher’s duel between Aaron Noel (Miramichi, NB) and Alex Abbott (Charlottetown, PEI) as both would pitch the complete game and New Brunswick would blank Prince Edward Island 1-0. New Brunswick would be involved in another barn burner as Robert Gallant (Miramichi, NB) would hit a RBI double in the top of the ninth to edge out Manitoba 5-4. However, Manitoba would come back to win in a slugfest and outlast Nova Scotia 14-9. Jean-Guy Bilodeau (Winnipeg, MB) would drive in four runs in this matchup. Alberta would improve to 3-0 in the tournament with a pair of wins today, first against Newfoundland & Labrador 14-0 and then over Prince Edward Island 5-3. For Newfoundland, it did not get much better as they would be crushed by Nova Scotia 10-0 to complete the day’s action. Click here for complete Baseball Canada National Championships coverage.

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Canada Opens Olympic Tournament with Win

  • August 13, 2008

BEIJING – Canada got their quest for gold started on the right foot as they took care of business both offensively and on the mound with a convincing 10-0, eight inning mercy win over China in their opener at the 2008 Olympic Summer Games. There was a bit of a feeling out period for both teams to start, but Canada got things going offensively in the fourth inning on a three-run bomb from Scott Thorman (Cambridge, ON) to put Canada ahead 3-0. “It was a situation where we were trying to be aggressive,” says Thorman about his home run. “I got a first pitch fastball. I was looking for something I could handle; got a pitch to hit and I hit it. It was great to draw first blood.” That was more than enough for Canadian starter Chris Begg (Uxbridge, ON), who went into cruise control after being given the lead. Begg would throw six and two thirds innings of shutout baseball, allowing only six hits while striking out nine Chinese hitters. “This is what I wanted to do and we needed a good performance on the mound,” says Begg. “My goal was to go out and let our bats come around and take over and then just try to keep putting up zeros on the board.” Canada would keep the pedal to the metal offensively, adding a pair of runs in the fifth inning. The first run came in on a wild pitch that allowed Emmanuel Garcia (Montreal, QC) to score from third. The second run was on a bases loaded walk to Nick Weglarz (Stevensville, ON) to cash in Adam Stern (London, ON) and put Canada ahead 5-0. The lead would increase to six in the seventh inning on a two-out RBI single from Jimmy VanOstrand (Richmond, BC) to bring in Thorman, however VanOstrand was caught trying to stretch his single to a double to end the inning. But Canada would put this game away in the eighth, scoring four times in the frame. Two runs came in on Stern’s triple. He would later score on a Stubby Clapp (Windsor, ON) sacrifice fly, then Mike Saunders (Victoria, BC) would hit his first homer of the Olympics, putting Canada ahead by ten. The Canadians would get themselves in a little trouble in the bottom of the eighth when China put runners on second and third with nobody out, but Rheal Cormier (Moncton, NB) would strikeout the next three batters to preserve the shutout and the mercy win. “Begg did a wonderful job for us keeping their hitters off balance and that’s why we wanted him out there for our first one,” says Olympic team Manager Terry Puhl. “Thorman got a big hit to get us started and he is going to be a big piece for us offensively going forward.” Canada’s next matchup at the 2008 Summer Olympics will be the powerhouse from Cuba. The last time the Canadians faced the Cuban in Olympic competition, it was in that heartbreaking 8-5 loss in the semi-finals of the 2004 Olympics in Athens. “We’re looking forward (to play Cuba),” says Thorman. “We’re looking to get a big start and come out hitting the ball. Scoring 10 runs in the first game is a great confidence boost for us. We know what we’re capable of and we’re going to play nine hard innings and see what happens.” “They’re beatable! Everybody makes them out to be such a great team and I’m not in that camp” proclaims Puhl about the Cubans. “If we play well and we pitch well, we can beat them. But it is going to be a dog fight.” Canada takes on Cuba on Thursday, August 14th at 6:00pm local time in Beijing. Game time in Canada is Thursday at 6:00 am Eastern time.

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National Championships: Day 5 Recap

  • August 13, 2008

OTTAWA – The Baseball Canada National Championships resumed today with the opening games of the Baseball Canada Cup in Medicine Hat, Alberta and the first day of action was full of exciting matchups and dramatic finishes. In the morning games, Nova Scotia opened its Cup tournament strong with a 5-0 win over New Brunswick. Shain Beaudreau (Cole Harbour, NS) was lights out as he would pitch a complete game, two-hitter, striking out 11 New Brunswick batters along the way. Brooklyn Foster (Langley, BC) led his team to victory with a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to break a 1-1 tie and give British Columbia a 3-1 win over Ontario. Ontario would bounce back in their second game of the day as Todd Blair (Ajax, ON) would drive in Jeff Hunt (Cambridge, ON) for the winning run in the top of the eighth inning to outlast Saskatchewan, taking this one by a score of 4-3. British Columbia would find themselves in an extra inning game as well in their night cap with Québec. Wes Darvill (Langley, BC) led off the top of the eighth inning with a double and that would eventually cost Québec as Darvill would score on a one-out sacrifice fly from Keaton Briscoe (North Vancouver, BC) and then hold off a threatening Québec in the bottom half of the inning for a 2-1 win. In the rest of the day’s action, Québec won their first game of the tournament, a 11-2 victory over Saskatchewan. Prince Edward Island defeated Newfoundland & Labrador 6-3 and Alberta shutout Manitoba by a score of 4-0. Click here for complete Baseball Canada National Championships coverage.

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National Championships: Day 4 Recap

  • August 10, 2008

OTTAWA – Two teams have been crowned National Champion in their respective divisions on the final day of the first week of the Baseball Canada National Championships. In Halifax, Nova Scotia, Ontario became the Midget National Champion by going undefeated, completing the feat in dramatic fashion in a 2-1 win over Québec. It was a pitcher’s duel between Josh Wood (Toronto, ON) and Samuel Ouellet (St-Eustache, QC), both going the complete game for their respective teams and this one would only be decided at the very end. With Québec ahead 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh inning, an error would cost them the lead as the tying run would cross the plate on the play. After a walk to load the bases, a walk to Brett Sanders (Toronto, ON) would drive in the winning run and give Ontario the National Title. In the Bronze medal game, British Columbia showed no mercy on Manitoba as they would make quick work of the Manitobans to earn the bronze medal in a 12-0 win. In Mascouche, Québec, British Columbia spoiled the party for the hometown favourites as they captured the Bantam Girls National Title with a 4-1 win over Québec. Jodi Hynek (Surrey, BC) and Kendra Lennie (Vancouver, BC) combined to hold Québec to one run on three hits in this matchup. Jessica Bérubé (Charlesbourg, QC) did her best to keep her team in it until the end, throwing three and one third innings, collecting eight strikeouts along the way. Saskatchewan captured the bronze medal in Mascouche with a 13-3 beating of Nova Scotia. Bailey Habshied (Wymark, SK) led the way offensively for Saskatchewan as she was 4-for-4 with four RBI, while Karli Reeve (Yorkton, SK) threw the complete game, allowing three runs on six hits with eight strikeouts. Beginning in week two of the Baseball Canada National Championships will be the Baseball Canada Cup in Medicine Hat, Alberta on August 13. Then on August 14, the Junior National Championship will commence in Charlottetown, PEI and the Bantam Boys National Championship will begin in Mascouche, Québec. Click here for complete Baseball Canada National Championships coverage.

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National Championships: Day 3 Recap

  • August 09, 2008

OTTAWA – The medal round is set in Halifax at the Midget Championship, while the medal matchups have already been decided in the Bantam Girls Championship in Mascouche on day three of the Baseball Canada National Championships. Québec and British Columbia will face off for the gold in the Bantam Girls Championship in Mascouche, Québec. Québec advanced to the gold medal game by defeating Saskatchewan in the semi-finals 18-3. Jessica Bérubé (Charlesbourg, QC) went 3-for-4 with three RBI in the semi, and also threw three shutout innings, allowing only two hits while striking out seven. British Columbia advanced to the gold medal game by beating Nova Scotia 6-5 in what was a dramatic finish. With British Columbia leading 5-0 in the top of the seventh, Nova Scotia would put together a two-out, five run rally to tie it up at 5-5 on three walks and four singles, capped off by Jessica Pendergrast’s (Summerside, PEI) RBI single to drive in the tying run. But, British Columbia would not fold. With runners on first and second and one out, Jodi Hynek (Surrey, BC) drove in the winning run on a RBI single to vault her team to the gold medal game. Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia will now battle for the bronze medal prior to Sunday’s gold medal matchup. In Halifax, by virtue of finishing first in their pools, Ontario and Québec automatically advanced to the semi-finals with both of their opponents were still yet to be determined until the end of the day today. In quarter-final number one, British Columbia got some solid pitching and capitalized on five Alberta errors to move on to the semis with a 7-3 win. Jordan Kolberg (Surrey, BC) threw the complete game, allowing three run on five hits and three walks while fanning eight. In the second quarter-final, it took extra innings to settle things between Manitoba and Prince Edward Island. With the game tied 5-5 in the top of the eighth inning when Daryl Ellis (Winnipeg, MB) hit an RBI triple to drive in the winning run and move on the semi-finals. British Columbia will take the undefeated team from Ontario in semi-final number one, while Manitoba and Québec will do battle in the second semi-final. Click here for complete Baseball Canada National Championships coverage.

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National Championships: Day 2 Recap

  • August 08, 2008

OTTAWA – Some great pitching was on display at the Midget Championship in Halifax, while weather was once again a factor in Mascouche at the Bantam Girls Championship. There were three complete-game shutouts at the Midget tournament, two of which involved New Brunswick. Sean Silliphant (Saint John, NB) threw a five inning, one-hitter in a 10-0 win over host Halifax where all 10 New Brunswick runs came in the first inning. However, New Brunswick was on the other side of things in their second game of the day as Jeremy Goodall (St. Albert, AB) threw a complete game, two-hitter as Alberta defeated New Brunswick 2-0. The third complete game came at the hands of Nick Alexiou (Port Coquitlam, BC) who threw seven innings, allowing two hits and striking out seven on route to a 2-0 win over Manitoba. In other matchups on the day, Ontario improved to 4-0 with wins over Saskatchewan and Halifax by score of 6-1 and 11-1. Québec dominated Newfoundland & Labrador 21-2, while Prince Edward Island went 2-0 today with a 6-3 win over Saskatchewan and a 5-3 upset win over Alberta. British Columbia also went 2-0 today, winning their first game of the day over Nova Scotia 6-2. In Mascouche, Québec six of the eight games scheduled were completed as organizers are trying to get in all the games on time. Of those who were able to get on the field, British Columbia was able to complete its preliminary schedule with a pair of victories by identical scores of 11-1 over Alberta and Lanaudière. Daniella Matteucci (Fruitvale, BC) threw a five inning complete game versus Alberta, allowing one run on one hit. Katie Wallace (Nanaimo, BC) was 2-for-4 with four RBI. In other action, Saskatchewan also was able to complete their preliminary schedule with a pair of wins, first over Lanaudière 8-4 and then over Alberta 4-2. Nova Scotia defeated Ontario by a score of 5-3 while Québec manhandled Manitoba 21-0. Click here for complete Baseball Canada National Championships coverage.

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Lawrie Signs with Brewers

  • August 07, 2008

OTTAWA – The Milwaukee Brewers signed Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC), their first round draft pick of the 2008 MLB First Year Player Draft, to his first professional contract earlier this week. The 16th overall pick, and highest Canadian position player ever selected, signed a 1.7 million dollar signing bonus prior to heading over to Beijing for the Olympic Games. "We are very happy for Brett and his family.  He is truly a special talent and we wish him the very best as he embarks on what is surely to be a successful professional career with the Milwaukee Brewers," says Director of National Teams and Head Coach for Baseball Canada Greg Hamilton. The Brewers would have liked to have Lawrie available to play professionally immediately after signing; however the 18-year-old’s commitment to the National Teams this season will prevent him from playing in the Brewers until he reports for the instructional league this fall.  That scenario sits just fine with the Brewers. "The [Olympic] experience for Brett is going to be a great experience. It's a chance to represent your country and you're playing against the best national teams in the world," says Brewers amateur scouting director Jack Zduriencik in an interview on Prior to joining the Olympic Team, Brett was in Edmonton for the World Junior Championship where Canada finished sixth and Lawrie took home the tournament’s triple crown, taking the top hitter award with his .469 average, hit three homers to earn the most home runs award and led all hitters with 16 RBI, earning the award for most runs driven in.  He was also selected to the tournament’s World All-Star team as the catcher.

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National Championships: Day 1 Recap

  • August 07, 2008

OTTAWA – The Midget Championship and the Bantam Girls Championship both got underway on Thursday and if day one is any indication, we are in for some great baseball action. The Midget Championship in Halifax, Nova Scotia saw a pair of barn burners to open the tournament.  Ontario would defeat New Brunswick 1-0, despite Ben Sollows (Moncton, NB) one-hit, complete game effort.  The lone Ontario run came in the top of the first inning. Also, it took 12 innings for Newfoundland & Labrador and Nova Scotia to settle this one, with Newfoundland taking it in the end 3-2.  Newfoundland broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the 12th inning by scoring a pair of runs to take a 3-1 lead.  Nova Scotia responded by scoring one run in the bottom half of the inning but that is all they would get as they would leave two runners stranded in the final frame. In the rest of the day’s action, Alberta would win big twice by defeating Saskatchewan 13-1 and Halifax 12-0.  Both games were decided by the 10-run mercy rule.  Ontario also moved to 2-0 with a win over Prince Edward Island 11-0. PEI did however put one in the win column, beating Halifax 6-1 earlier in the day.  Québec and Nova Scotia also finished with a split today, with Nova Scotia defeating Québec by a score of 2-1 in each their second game of the day. Sitting undefeated so far along with Ontario and Alberta is Manitoba, who is at 1-0 after a 10-0 win over Newfoundland & Labrador. In the Bantam Girls Championship, taking place in Mascouche, Québec; the weather cooperated long enough so that four games could be completed, with an excellent pitching duel to finish off the day. It was 0-0 going into the top of the seventh inning between British Columbia and Saskatchewan when BC scored four runs in the inning and would hold on for the 4-0 win.  Katie Wallace (Nanaimo, BC) hit a two-run single in the seventh to bring in BC’s third and fourth runs.  She was 2-for-4 in the game. Shayla Shahsavar (Saskatoon, SK) was outstanding in a losing cause, throwing the complete game and allowing the four runs, two earned, on six hits and one walk.  Shahsavar would also collect an impressive 13 strikeouts. In other Bantam Girls action, Québec made easy work of Nova Scotia, winning 11-1.  It was a similar story between Ontario and Manitoba with Ontario taking it 15-5 and Lanaudiere would defeat Alberta by a score of 9-3. Click here for complete National Championships coverage.

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Olympic Team Off to Beijing After Exhibition Series with U.S.

  • August 05, 2008

DURHAM, N.C. – The Canadian Olympic Team played a four game exhibition series against the United States this past August 1-4. Canada would finish the series with a 1-3 record. Canada would win the first game by a score of 4-3 on Scott Thorman’s (Cambridge, ON) two-out double in the top of the tenth at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. Once the series moved to Durham, N.C. the series shifted on the side of the U.S. as they would win three in a row by scores of 7-2, 9-1 and 17-5. The last game was a seven inning 10-run-rule shortened game. For box scores and recaps of each game, click here Canada will begin it's Olympic Schedule on August 13, opening against the host country China.

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