Canada hope for redemption

March 6th, 2008

After exhibition games with Australia, Canada’s national baseball team head to Taiwan, and hope to get a chance to regain a berth in the Summer Olympics.

Four years ago, Canada fell frustratingly short of a medal in the Athens Games, so the flight out from Down Under represented a new beginning.

“It looks good for us,” said outfielder Jimmy Van Ostrand of Richmond, B.C., as the Canadians headed to the final Olympic qualifying tournament for this summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing. “It’s a tough tournament and there is going to be a lot of tough competition there but we definitely have a good team to give ourselves a chance. It’s going to be lots of fun.”

Van Ostrand and the rest of the Canadian roster felt upbeat and confident after going 3-1-1 in a tune-up series against the Australians that began Feb. 27. They were able shake off a winter in which most of the players were away from baseball.

Canada must now claim one of three open Olympic spots. The week-long tournament, starting tomorrow, will see Canada in a stiff competition to come out ahead of baseball-strong countries Australia, Germany, South Korea, Mexico, South Africa, Spain, and the host Taiwan.

The Canadians will field a very young team featuring up-and-coming prospects like Mike Saunders of Victoria, VanOstrand of Richmond, B.C., Matt Rogelstad of New Westminster, B.C., and Nick Weglarz of Stevensville, Ont.

“We have all the tools here to get it done. We just need to stick to our game and we’ll get the results that we want,” said Canadian manager Terry Puhl.

Canada’s experience will likely be a factor this week, with Windsor’s Stubby Clapp, Adam Stern of Port Stanley, Ont., Calgary’s Ryan Radmanovich, Jeremy Ware of Guelph, Ont.and Mike Kusiewicz of Ottawa all returning from the 2004 team that dropped an 8-5 decision in the late innings to Cuba in a game that would have sent them to the gold medal match.

The Canadians – behind starter Shawn Hill, pitching with a torn ligament in his right elbow – carried a 3-2 lead into the eighth inning before the Cubans rallied for six runs. Canada rallied for two runs in the ninth, but with two out and two runners on base, Kevin Nicholson’s apparent home run was snagged at the wall by leaping Cuban left fielder Frederich Cepeda and preserve Cuba’s 8-5 win.

For veteran like Clapp, the thought of that agonizing finish still makes him feel “sick to my stomach … it brings tears to my eyes every time I see it on the replay.” “When we didn’t medal in 2004 I felt cheated, because we had a team to do it, circumstances just didn’t allow it,” Clapp told the Canadian Press. “At that time after being so heartbroken, it was really hard to go back to baseball again.”

The Canadian baseball folk hero retired from professional play last season, and only the national team’s pursuit of a berth at the Olympics this summer keeps him on the field now. He’s put his job as a hitting coach in the Houston Astros organization on hold in the hope that the last of his trademark pre-game back flips comes in Beijing, while taking the field for the gold-medal game.

If they didn’t make it, one of the more colorful players to ever suit up for the national team will likely have played his final game wearing the Maple Leaf.

“Unfortunately, that’s the truth,” Clapp said in a recent interview. “I’ve thought about it and what it does is motivate me more to succeed in this tournament because I want to play in August. I’d rather that be my last hurrah than a qualifying tournament. It’s a special deal and we have to take advantage of it.”

“(Winning a medal) is probably about as important as anything’s been to me, especially for this program.”

The kids will be counted on to do the heavy lifting, with veterans like Clapp guiding them along.

“The toughest part is them being able to trust themselves and that’s something that will be relayed from the veteran guys,” said Clapp. “They’re at a point in their careers where they’ve got to be able to do that and if they can’t it’s going to be tough to succeed. The pressure only gets worse. It never stops, you just have to learn to deal with it.”

Clapp is the ideal player to show them the way.

He first came to national prominence in 1999, when his bloop fly ball in the 11th inning brought home the winning run in a walkoff 7-6 victory over the United States at the Pan American Games in Winnipeg. In subsequent years he played a key role in most major Canadian baseball highlights, including qualifying for the 2004 Olympics and the stunning 8-6 win over the U.S. at the World Baseball Classic in 2006.

One of his most memorable moments came after Canada clinched its berth for the Athens Games, when the team gathered on the bus and sang O Canada together over and over.

“That sends goosebumps down my skin just thinking about that moment. It was just unbelievable, the camaraderie between the guys and the coaches,” Clapp recalled. “The Pan Am Games sticks out, the game against the U.S. was huge. The game against the U.S. at the World Baseball Classic, there were some things in that game that were just phenomenal. There have been so many games that have meant so much.”

There’s been plenty of heartbreak, too.

Aside from the loss to Cuba in 2004, there was missing out on the 2000 Olympics after a 3-2 semifinal loss to Cuba at the ’99 Pan Ams and elimination from the World Baseball Classic on run differential despite tying the U.S. and Mexico with 2-1 first-round records. “International baseball is different, we talk about cutthroat baseball and we’ll relay that to the young guys,” said Clapp. “Let them know every pitch counts, every run counts.”

Korea release 24-man Olympic Qualifier Roster

March 5th, 2008

The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) and Korea Baseball Association (KBA) announced the final 24 members to play in the upcoming Beijing Olympics qualifying tournament, headlined by power hitters Seung-yeop Lee of the Yomiuri Giants, Dae-ho Lee of the Lotte Giants and Dong-joo Kim of the Doosan Bears.

Along with the trio of power hitters, players include former Major Leaguer Sun-woo Kim, who signed with the Bears in January; Hanwha Eagles lefty Hyun-jin Ryu who combined for 35 wins the last two seasons; and Lotte Giants veteran right-hander Min-han Son, who has recorded 85 victories in his 10-year KBO career.

However, manager Kim Kyung-moon (Doosan Bears)’s penchant for experience over base running removed Keun-woo Jung of the SK Wyverns, Byung-hyun Min of the Bears and Dae-hyun Lee of the LG Twins, who combined for 107 stolen bases in the KBO last season, from the roster.

In addition, the quartet of the Bears’ Tae-hoon Lim, the Woori Heroes’ Yong-hoon Cho, the Lotte Giants’ Won-joon Jang and the Eagles’ Young-myung Ahn, who were expected to be used as relief pitchers, also failed to make the national team, which reached the quarterfinals of the World Baseball Classic (WBC) two years ago.

Giants catcher Min-ho Kang also was also left off the roster.

Seung-yup Lee, 31, plays for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan. Lee was in spring training with the Cubs back in 2002 and with the Marlins in 2003, but never signed a major league contract. Instead, Lee went on to set the single-season home run mark for an Asian professional league with 56 home runs in the KBO in 2003. Lee had previously set the KBO single-season home run record in 1999 with 54 homers, and collected five MVP awards in the KBO before moving to Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball in 2004. Lee was a key member of South Korea’s 2006 World Baseball Classic team, hitting five home runs in the team’s first six games en route to a 6-0 start.

Dae-ho Lee, 25, is an imposing 6-foot-3, 265 pounds and won the KBO Triple Crown in 2006, hitting .336 with 26 homers and 88 RBIs, and capped it off by winning a gold glove. Lee led the KBO in slugging last year, batting .335/.453/.600 with 29 home runs and won his second straight gold glove.

Dong-joo Kim, who won the KBO gold glove at third base in 2007, hit .332/.457/.534 with 19 home runs last year for the Doosan Bears and led the KBO in on-base percentage.

20-year-old lefthander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who in 2006 became the first player in Korea Baseball Organization history to win the league’s rookie of the year award and be the MVP in the same season. Ryu also won a gold glove that year, finishing with 204 strikeouts in 201 2/3 innings and a 2.23 ERA for the Hanwha Eagles. Last year, Ryu led the KBO with 178 strikeouts and had a 2.94 ERA in 211 innings.

Sun-Woo Kim, who pitched in the Giants’ system last year at Triple-A Fresno, will pitch for South Korea. Kim, who signed with the Doosan Bears of the Korean Baseball Organization earlier this year, had a 4.87 ERA in 118 1/3 innings last year. Kim last pitched in the majors in 2006, appearing in six games for the Rockies and two more for the Reds.

There are some questions about Korea Roster, manager Kim is not sure who will be his closer, and the middle infield defense is another issue.

He did know who will be on the starting rotation; Hyun-jin Ryu is starting against Australia and Taiwan, considered the most critical outings in the schedule. So does the Former San Francisco Giant Sun-woo Kim, SK Wyverns lefty Kwang-hyun Kim and Lotte Giants Min-han Son.

The lack of bullpen depth is alarming considering the length of the series and that, aside of Ryu and Son, none of starters have a reputation for working into the late innings. Sun-woo spent the larger part of his career as a reliever and the 20-year-old Kwang-hyun is not even established in the regular rotation of the Wyverns yet.

Kim is struggling to replace Samsung Lions closer Seung-hwan Oh, a mainstay with the national team in the past few years who is unavailable due to an elbow injury. Bears reliever Tae-hoon Im is a candidate, although he might be too much of a gamble as an inexperienced 20-year-old.

Wyverns veteran reliever Dae-hyun Chung could be a better option, but Kim has been concerned about his poor form in the practice matches. Chung, a soft-throwing submariner, has never been known as a strikeout artist, and that could be a problem in the late innings considering the compromised infield defense.

Lions shortstop Jin-man Park, whose range and glove work are irreplaceable, hasn’t been able to participate in defensive drills due to a bum shoulder and is questionable for the tournament. Si-hun Son, currently with the Korean army baseball team, is considered as an alternative option.

Korea will play its first game of the qualifier against South Africa on Friday, then plays Australia on Saturday, Mexico on Sunday, Spain next Monday, Germany on March 12, Canada on the 13th and host Taiwan on the 15th. The tournament will feature eight teams; include Australia, Canada, Germany Mexico, South Africa, Spain and Taiwan, fighting for three final slots in the Beijing Games.

Australia vs. Canada Exhibition Game 5

March 3rd, 2008

Canada won three in a row to finish the Australia Exhibition Series before going to Taiwan.

According to Canada Press:

The Canadian national team beat Australia 4-1 on Monday in the finale of a five-game exhibition series in preparation for this month’s Olympic baseball qualifying tournament.

Jimmy VanOstrand of Richmond, B.C., doubled, homered and scored twice while starter Jonathan Lockwood of Toronto allowed one hit and struck out two over three innings.

Jamie Richmond of Mississauga, Ont., allowed two hits over three innings. Alexandre Picard of St. Eustache, Que., gave up the lone run on three hits over two innings.

“It was a good outing for everybody today,” said Canada manager Terry Puhl. “Lockwood was outstanding and he’s going to be a workhorse for us going forward. Richmond did what he always does and Periard was solid as well.”

David Corrente of Chatham, Ont., had a solo homer for Canada, who finished the series with a 3-1-1 mark.

“We have all the tools here to get it done,” said Puhl. “We just need to stick to our game and we’ll get the results that we want.”

And the Baseball Canada:

Canada’s offence got the job done and the pitching was stellar as they would take the final exhibition game of this series by a score of 4-1 over Australia.

The pitchers were solid in shutting down the Aussie offence in this eight inning contest, starting with the starter Jonathan Lockwood (Toronto, ON). Lockwood only allowed one hit and two walks with a pair of strikeouts in three inning of work.

“You have to approach this time to work on things you need to work on and treat it as a learning experience going into the tournament so you can be at your best,” says Lockwood.

“Every game is going to be a combination of guys. It’s good that everybody finished well and did what they had to do and that looks good come tournament time because guys are going to go in there and get it done.”

Jamie Richmond (Mississauga, ON) and Alexandre Periard (St. Eustache, QC) were in good form in relief. Richmond, in three innings pitched, allowed two hits with two strikeouts and Periard gave up a run on three hits and a walk with one punch out in two innings in relief.

“It was a good outing for everybody today,” says Manager Terry Puhl. “Lockwood was outstanding, and he’s going to be a workhorse for us going forward. Richmond did what he always does and Periard was solid as well.”

Offensively, the star in this game was Jimmy VanOstrand (Richmond, BC) who doubled, homered and scored twice. He hit the double in the second inning and would come in to score the game’s first run on a single from Nick Weglarz (Stevensville, ON).

VanOstrand would homer in the fourth inning off of Adam Blackley with Matt Rogelstad (New Westminster, BC) on base to increase the Canadian lead.

“It was good to have a game like that to finish off the exhibition series,” says VanOstrand who was 2-for-2 with two RBI. “I’m looking forward to going to Taiwan and hopefully keep it going.”

David Corrente (Chatham, ON) would also add to the offence with a solo-home run to lead off the fifth inning off of Gavin Dlouhy. Corrente would hit the second pitch of the inning over the left field fence to put Canada ahead 4-0.

The Aussies would break the shutout bid in the seventh inning when Andrew Utting would single off of Periard to drive in Ben Risinger and put the Australians on the board.

The Canadians finished the exhibition series with a 3-1-1 record, which could be a good sign going into the Final Olympic Qualifier.

“It looks good for us,” says VanOstrand about his hopes for the qualifier. “It’s a tough tournament and there is going to be a lot of tough competition there but we definitely have a good team to give ourselves a chance. It’s going to be lots of fun.”

“We have all the tools here to get it done. We just need to stick to our game and we’ll get the results that we want,” says Puhl.

Mexico vs Rockies Exhibition Game 2

March 2nd, 2008

No body will depreciate Mexico now, especially they beat the Colorado Rockies leading by Jeff Francis.

According to AP:

Jeff Francis felt a bit more fatigued after his second spring training start this season than he has at the same point in the past.

Then again the 27-year-old left-hander never had to pitch through the end of October.

“I started (throwing) in January, just like normal,” Francis said after a Colorado Rockies split squad lost to the Mexico National All-Stars, 2-1 Sunday.

If Francis is tired, he doesn’t look it. He threw 45 pitches, allowing two hits, one earned run and striking out two in three innings.

Francis, the Rockies’ opening day starter, has thrown five innings this spring and has given up five hits and two earned runs, striking out three and walking one.

“The good thing was just going out there and throwing three innings, getting up and down three times,” Francis said. “You can feel it. You think about (pitching) three innings in the regular season and it’s nothing.”

Bench coach Jamie Quirk, filling in for manager Clint Hurdle who was in Phoenix with another split squad, was pleased with Francis’ performance.

“I don’t take anything away (from the Mexico National team), but you know maybe his demeanor or adrenaline would have been different if we were playing a regular team,” Quirk said. “He might have known hitters better, but he’s just trying to get his work in for right now. … and he’s doing great. That’s what we wanted today.”

Mexico center fielder Ivan Terrazas led off the third off the wall in right-center and scored on Albino Contreras’ sacrifice fly when Rockies right fielder Brad Hawpe’s throw sailed over the head of catcher Edwin Bellorin, giving Mexico a 1-0 lead.

“I got into some trouble with (my changeup). Some guys ran into it,” Francis said. “I got one guy to roll over on it in the first inning. Still, it could be better, especially to left- handers. (Terrazas) hit a triple and the ball was middle in and he was all over it. If it was middle away that would have been a better pitch.”

The Rockies beat the Mexico National team 15-2 Friday.

Mexico’s starting pitcher Walter Silva stifled the Rockies for 4 2-3 shutout innings. Silva got the win and allowed two hits, four walks and struck out four. He got a standing ovation by the strong contingent of Mexico fans in attendance when he was pulled in the fifth inning.

Colorado second baseman Marcus Giles was 1-for-1 with a walk, and Clint Barmes hit an RBI double in the seventh. Barmes’ double was Colorado’s only extra base hit of the game.

Relief pitcher Luis Viscaino pitched a perfect ninth for the Rockies.

“He looked good, kept the ball down,” Quirk said. “I saw (pitching coach Bob Apodaca) talking to him after the game about rushing, but when you’re pitching late in the game like that after you’ve been sitting all day (it happens). … He’s a veteran, he’s a guy we’re going to be counting on.”

More detail on MLB.com:

Mexico at the plate: Left fielder Christian Presichi had a pair of doubles in three at-bats. In the third inning, center fielder Ivan Terrazas hit a leadoff triple off the wall into the right-center-field gap and scored on the following at-bat off Albino Contreras’ sacrifice fly to right.

Rockies on the mound: Starter Jeff Francis threw 45 pitches in three innings of work. He allowed two hits and one earned run, and struck out two. Micah Bowie pitched two solid innings of relief, allowing no runs, two hits and one base on balls. John Koronka allowed one run, four hits and a walk in three innings of work. Luis Vizcaino pitched a scoreless ninth.

Mexico on the mound: Starter Walter Silva stifled Rockies hitters through 4 2/3 shutout innings, allowing just two hits and four walks, and striking out four. Pablo Ortega struck out two of the four batters he faced in relief and allowed no hits, runs or walks in 1 1/3 innings.

You can get the boxs core here.

Australia vs. Canada Exhibition Game 4

March 2nd, 2008

This time, Canada break tie and get another Win from Australia.

According to Baseball Canada:

Canada’s offence once again came up big as they would break a 5-5 tie in the eighth inning to beat Australia in the fourth exhibition game of the series by a score of 9-5.

The Canadians would score four runs on five straight hits in the eighth inning before the Aussies could register an out.

Emmanuel Garcia (Montreal, QC) started things off with a leadoff double and would score on Mike Saunders’ (Victoria, BC) RBI triple. Ryan Radmanovich (Calgary, AB) would then drive in his second run of the game with a single to score Saunders. Matt Rogelstad (New Westminster, BC) would move Radmanovich up to third base with a double and Emerson Frostad (Calgary, AB) would cash in Radmanovich with a single. David Corrente (Chatham, ON) would drive in Rogelstad to complete the scoring.

“Manny Garcia had a wonderful night, Saunders was fabulous and Radmanovich had some big RBIs. It’s coming together for us,” says Manager Terry Puhl.

It was a good start to the ballgame for Canada as they would open the scoring in the first inning when Radmanovich would drive in Stubby Clapp (Windsor, ON) for the first run of the game.

“I’m feeling good about my swing right now. It was nice to get a couple big hits in key situations which is the things we’re going to have to do in (the qualifier) to win,” says Radmanovich, who was 2-for-3 with the two RBI.

From there, James Avery (Moose Jaw, SK) shut things down, allowing only two walks with three strikeouts in three innings of work to start the game.

“I’m feeling pretty good. I’m building up every time we go. I threw pretty well tonight, a couple of walks were disappointing, but other than that I thought I threw pretty well,” says Avery.

But the Aussies would comeback and score four runs in the fourth inning off Brooks McNiven (Vancouver, BC) to take a 4-1 lead. Two doubles, two singles and an error was the cause for the Australian runs in the inning.

The Canadians would tie thing up however in their half of the fourth inning on two sacrifice flies from Rogelstad and Nick Weglarz (Stevensville, ON) and a wild pitch that would score Saunders who reached on a single.

Canada would then take the lead in the sixth inning when Garcia, who tripled to lead off the inning, would score on a ground out by Rogelstad.

Once again though, Australia would comeback to tie the ballgame when Daniel Berg hit an RBI single to score Mitch Dening to tie things up at 5-5.

But the Canadians would score four in the eighth and T.J. Burton (Ottawa, ON) would pitch a one, two, three ninth inning to preserve the win for Canada.

You can find the Box Score and Play-by-play.

Australia vs. Canada Exhibition Game 3

March 1st, 2008

Even a six-run lead, Australia can not hold the margin and tied by Canada.

From Canada Press:

Steve Green of Greenfield Park, Que., fanned five of the six batters he faced as Canada rallied from a six-run deficit in the ninth inning to claim an 8-8 exhibition baseball tie with Australia on Saturday.

Emerson Frostad of Calgary hit a two-run homer and Victoria’s Mike Saunders belted a three-run shot in a six-run ninth inning for Canada. But it was a two-out, run-scoring single by Nick Weglarz of Stevensville, Ont., that brought home the tying run.

“I mark (this game) down as a win,” said Canadian team manager Terry Puhl. “When you come back and hit the ball as hard as we did and score runs . . . a team that never has any quit in it is a team that is going to qualify (for the Olympics).”

Frostad finished 2-for-4 and drove in three runs for Canada.

“It was a great comeback,” he said. “We were slow the first couple of innings and it took a little while to get going, but that’s the type of team we are.

“We’re very explosive and we can put up those big innings.”

At Baseball Canada:

The Canadians erased a six run deficit in the ninth inning and Steve Green (Greenfield Park, QC) struck out five of the six batters he faced to preserve an 8-8 tie in the third exhibition game against Australia.

Canada was behind by a score of 8-2 going into the top of the ninth inning. Emmanuel Garcia (Montreal, QC) got things started with a single followed by a two-run home run by Emerson Frostad (Calgary, AB) to cut the margin in half.

After Adam Stern (London, ON) drew a walk and a double from Stubby Clapp (Windsor, ON), Mike Saunders (Victoria, BC) hit a three-run bomb to right field to bring the Canadians within one with nobody out.

With now two out and Taylor Green (Courtenay, BC) on third, Nick Weglarz (Stevensville, ON) drove in the tying run with a single off Aussie Brendan Wise.

“I mark (this game) down as a win,” says Manager Terry Puhl. “When you come back and hit the ball as hard as we did and score runs… a team that never has any quit in it is a team that is going to qualify (for the Olympics).”

“It was a great comeback,” says Frostad, who got the comeback started and was 2-for-4 with three RBI. “We were slow the first couple of innings and it took a little while to get going, but that’s the type of team we are. We’re very explosive and we can put up those big innings.”

The Aussies started the game with a bang as they would put across four runs in the first inning off Canadian starter Brett Gray (Petrolia, ON). Gray would allow another run in the second inning to put the Aussies ahead 5-0.

Canada would cut the gap in the fifth inning on an RBI single from Frostad, who would later score on a bases loaded walk to bring the score to 5-2.

“I’m starting to get the flow again. It’s mostly timing. We’ve all been hitting in the cages and working out. It’s just getting that (in game) timing down and it’s going to take a couple games, but a lot of the guys are starting to get going and hopefully we can keep that going,” says Frostad.

But the Australians would add to the lead in the sixth when Ben Risinger, Glenn Williams and Mat Kent all came in to score off Scott Richmond (Langley, BC), who allowed one run on two hits, and Mike Kusiewicz (Ottawa, ON), who allowed two runs, one earned, on one hit, to make it 8-2 for Australia.

Steve Green came into the game in the eighth inning with Canada trailing by six and silenced the Aussie offence when he struck out two of the three batters he faced in the inning to allow his teammates to generate the impressive comeback the following inning.

Green would then shut down the Australian attack by striking out the side in the ninth inning to finish the game.

“This game gave me a great boost of confidence,” says Green. “It was an unbelievable game. The thing about Team Canada is that we never give up and that’s key. We showed it with six runs in the ninth and we got the job done.”

You can also find the Box Score and Play-by-play at Baseball Australia web site.

Australia vs. Canada Exhibition Game 2

February 29th, 2008

At the second game of Australia vs. Canada, Canada won big by four home runs. Now they are 1-1 on the exhibition series.

Based on the Canada Press :

The Canadian national team whipped Australia 10-1 in the second game of a five-game exhibition series in preparation for next month’s Olympic baseball qualifying tournament.

Matt Rogelstad of New Westminster, B.C., belted a grand slam in the first inning, one of four home runs for Canada on the day. “You could see this team has a lot of power,” said manager Terry Puhl. “It’s going to be fun.”

Canada finished with 15 hits.

“Today guys got a lot of good swings,” said Adam Stern of London, Ont. “Now it’s going to be getting (timing) down.”

Stern, Nick Weglarz of Stevensville, Ont., and Mike Saunders of Victoria also went deep for Canada.

Starter Jamie Richmond of Mississauga, Ont., allowed two walks and struck out two over a pair of no-hit innings.

“Jamie’s been pitching with a lot of confidence really early,” said Puhl. “He did well for us at the World Cup and he’s going to be a big part of our pitching staff.”

Jonathan Lockwood of Toronto gave up one run over two innings. Alexandre Periard of St. Eustache, Que., and T.J. Burton of Ottawa combined to allow one walk over three innings.

And Baseball Canada said:

Canada was running on all cylinders as both the pitching and offense flexed their muscle in a 10-1 win over Australia in the second exhibition game of this series.

The Canadians collected 15 hits to go along with four home runs in this game which saw 10 of the 12 players who saw action get at least one hit.

“We got to see a lot of pitch tonight and this time we were squaring up the baseball,” says Manager Terry Puhl. “You could see that this team has a lot of power. It’s going to be fun.”

The Canadian offense did not waste any time to put points on the board. The first inning saw Canada put four runs on the board with the help of a grand slam from Matt Rogelstad (New Westminster, BC).

The inning started with two straight walks to Adam Stern (London, ON) and Stubby Clapp (Windsor, ON) and a single by Mike Saunders (Victoria, BC) to load the bases. After Ryan Radmanovich (Calgary, AB) hit into a fielder’s choice, Rogelstad belted the grand slam to put Canada in front 4-0.

“Today, guys got a lot of good swings,” says Stern, who was 2-for-4 with a two-run home run. “Now it’s going to be getting (timing) down, getting to hit the breaking balls and off speed stuff, because that’s going to be our biggest challenge when you don’t have a lot of time to prepare.”

After increasing the lead to 5-0 on a RBI single from Radmanovich in the second inning, the Canadians scored two more runs in the third inning on a two-run homer by Nick Weglarz (Stevensville, ON), making it 7-0.

“I had a pretty good approach, slowed it down and it went good,” says Weglarz, who was 2-for-4 including a double. “It was 3-1 knuckle ball that didn’t break, got it up and it went.”

The score would be 7-1 going into the seventh inning when Saunders hit a solo home run to bring the lead back to seven runs.

Stern would complete the scoring in the eighth inning with his two-run knock.

“Right now, results are good but you want to get comfortable, get ready to hit and today happened to be a good day,” says Stern. “I still want to see more off speed stuff, but it was one of those things that all of a sudden clicked and I was ready to go.”

As for the pitchers, they held the Aussie offense in check all night.

It started with Jamie Richmond (Mississauga, ON), who threw two no-hit innings, allowing only two walks with a pair of strikeouts.

“Not bad for the first time out. I didn’t feel great, but it I think it went good,” says Richmond.

“Jamie’s been pitching with a lot of confidence really early,” says Puhl. “He did well for us at the World Cup and he’s going to be a big part of our pitching staff.”

Jonathan Lockwood (Toronto, ON) followed with a solid two innings of his own, allowing one run on two hits and a walk with two strikeouts.

Alexandre Periard (St. Eustache, QC) and T.J. Burton (Ottawa, ON) combined to close out the Canadian side on the mound, giving up only a walk with one punch out in three innings of work.

You can also find the Box Score and Play-by-play at Baseball Australia web site.

Mexico vs Rockies Exhibition Game 1

February 29th, 2008

Colorado Rockies seems too much for Mexican National Team, they won by 15-2, even this is just the exhibition game for Mexico to warm up.

On MLB.com:

Rockies at the plate: Prospect Christian Colonel knocked a three-run double. Ryan Spilborghs doubled twice and scored twice. Dexer Fowler with 2-for-6 with a double and two runs scored, Matt Kata had two RBI singles, Ian Stewart drove in two runs and Mike McKenry doubled.

Mexico at the plate: The Mexican squad was down, 15-0, in the seventh when Albino Contreras knocked a two-run homer to left off lefty relief prospect Josh Newman.

Rockies on the mound: Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez was smooth over two innings. He gave up a hit but forced a double-play grounder in the first inning, and he overcame a leadoff walk in the second by retiring the next three batters and fanning two. … Brandon Hynick, the Class A California League Pitcher of the Year in 2007, threw two scoreless innings, overcoming loaded bases with one out in the fourth by striking out former Rockies player Miguel Ojeda and forcing a Carlos Valencia grounder.

Mexico on the mound: Starter Francisco Campos absorbed six runs, five earned, and nine hits in four innings. He struck out four, walked one and hit one. Jose Silva gave up nine runs and seven hits in one inning. Former Rockies reliever David Cortes pitched a perfect 1 2/3 innings.

The box score is here.

Australia vs. Canada Exhibition Game 1

February 28th, 2008

On Thursday, February 28, 2008, Canada lost to Australia on Exhibition Game one.

Canadian press said:

The Aussies cobbled together two singles, four walks and a wild pitch for a five-run fifth off pitchers Aaron Wideman of Mississauga, Ont., and Steve Green of Greenfield Park, Que., that erased a 3-0 deficit.

“They had a soft five runs off of balls that weren’t hit real hard and our guys are still just trying to see some pitches,” said manager Terry Puhl. “Defensively we did well. We made some really nice plays. They’re good athletes. It’ll be a couple more days and they’ll be right there.”

Canada went up 2-0 in the third on an RBI double by Emmanuel Garcia of Montreal and a sacrifice fly by Emerson Frostad of Calgary. Jeremy Ware of Guelph, Ont., made it 3-0 in the fourth with an RBI double.

Starter James Avery of Moose Jaw, Sask., and Brooks McNiven of Vancouver each threw two scoreless innings for the Canadians.

And the Baseball Canada said:

It started off well, but one inning would turn out to be Canada’s downfall in their first exhibition game as they would fall at the hands off Australia by a final score of 5-3.

The Canadians would be the ones to break it open in the third inning when Emmanuel Garcia hit a double to cash in Jeremy Ware (Guelph, ON) would had reached base on a walk.

“I was just trying to see the ball well. I got a 3-1 fastball and I was able to put the bat on the ball,” says Garcia.

David Corrente (Chatham, ON), who also walked, would score the second run of the inning on a sacrifice fly from Emerson Frostad (Calgary, AB) to make it 2-0.

The Canadians would add to the lead in the fourth inning when Ware hit a double of his own to score Matt Rogelstad (New Westminster, BC) and make it 3-0.

“I’m just trying to keep it simple, put a good swing on the ball and it worked out,” says Ware of his double.

Things were going smoothly until the fifth inning when the Aussies would put up a five spot and take the lead. Aaron Wideman (Mississauga, ON) and Steve Green (Greenfield Park, QC) combined to give up those runs on two singles, four walks and a wild pitch.

“We’re obviously getting out there for the first time, facing hitters for the first time this year and it feels good to get out there,” says Wideman of his outing. “I didn’t have my control today, but I’m working on all of the glitches and the bumps and bruises, but my arm felt good. I just need to get rid of the wrinkles and be ready for the next day.”

James Avery (Moose Jaw, SK), who started for Canada, and Brooks McNiven (Vancouver, BC) threw two innings a piece and combined to shutout the Australians allowing only two hits with six strikeouts.

There were more positives than negatives for Canada in a game which saw most of the players taking the field for the first time since the end of last season.

“They had a soft five runs off of balls that weren’t hit real hard and our guys are still just trying to see some pitches,” says Manager Terry Puhl.

“Defensively we did well. We made some really nice plays. They’re good athletes. It’ll be a couple more days and they’ll be right there.”

You can also find the Box Score and Play-by-play at Baseball Australia web site.

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