Its all over for Canada at the World Baseball Challenge.
Their dreams of playing for a medal on home turf were shot down on a sunny Wednesday afternoon at Citizen Field by Team USA, who left the park with a 7-4 victory.
The win means the U.S. squad will play for bronze today at 3 p.m. against either JX-Eneos of Japan or Chinese Taipei who played the late game Wednesday night.
A four-run fourth inning for Team USA broke a 2-2 deadlock. Cory Urquharts flare into centrefield over the head of second baseman Cory Smith plated Bobby LeCount, who led off the inning with a double. Then with two out and Roeman Fields on base after a walk, Tyler Baumgartner found some unoccupied real estate in centrefield to score Tyler Holm and Fields. Cory Urquhart, the most consistent American hitter in the tournament, did his part to keep the fire going, rapping an RBI single just past the reach of diving third baseman Rob Recuenco.
Pitching on three days rest, Adrian Martinez said he couldnt get a feel for his changeup or curveball but he had his fastball working for him and stuck to it for most of the six innings he worked, allowing just five hits and three runs. The 19-year-old from Glenns Ferry, Id., picked up his first WBC win and hes confident his team will continue its winning ways in the bronze-medal game today.
It feels pretty good, wed like to be in the gold-silver game obviously but well take bronze, as long as we go home with a medal, said Martinez. This has been a lifetime experience hanging out with the boys. Coming in I didnt know anybody, some of the other guys have played together pretty much their whole lives.
Canada opened with a 13-6 loss to the U.S. a week ago and also lost 9-3 to the Americans on Monday. Built like a bull, Martinez kept Canadas offence in check.
Adrian gave us six strong innings and that was the gameplan for us, said Team USA manger Rick Skinner. Hes one of our young guys and that was impressive to see. He wasnt nervous, he threw strikes, everything we asked for.
The team has gelled well together and I bet when we leave this tournament theres going to be a lot of kids on here who have made new best friends.
The record states Canada went winless in seven games. First baseman Larry Balkwill, an Ontario native who played for Siena College in Albany, N.Y., wants the country to known his team poured its heart into the tournament trying to find ways to win but came up second-best on the scoreboard every game.
One thing people need to understand that this team was kind of ragtag put together and you respect all the guys who came here who really worked hard and gave it their all, said the 22-year-old Balkwill. You just hear some stuff in the stands - were not trying to lose, people need to know we were playing hard. Obviously, 0-7, people wanted a better performance and we wanted that too, but this was the best team we could put together in a short time and we played hard.
Canada drew first blood, scoring runs in the first and second innings to take a 2-0 lead. In the first, Brooklyn Fosters hit scored Recuenco, who had reached base on an error. Then in the second, Balkwill get his bat on Martinezs first pitch of the second inning and knocked it over the fence. That lead evaporated by the third inning. In the bottom of the second, Max Whitt walked and Brian Corliss followed up with a basehit deep enough to allow Whitt to score. Then in the third, Team Canada starter Skylar Janisse hit Baumgartner with a pitch, Whitt singled and Corliss hit into a fielders choice that brought in Baumgartner.
Down 6-2 in the sixth, Canada clawed back with one run that could have been more if not for a base-running mistake. Aaron Dunsmore led off the inning with a double off the right field wall and Foster got him to third with a high fly out. With Brandon Hunter on his way to getting walked, Martinez pitched one into the dirt and it got past catcher Mychal Harrington. That brought Balkwill to the plate with one out and his groundball was fielded by the shortstop Whitt, who faked a throw to first base and caught Hunter off the bag heading for third and he was tagged out by Corliss.
Victoria high schooler Ty Jocko made his first WBC appearance to start the bottom half of the eighth, taking over the ball from Graham Allard. Jocko, whose family lives in Prince George, went through the meat of the order and got out virtually unscathed except for one unearned run when Whitt reached first on an error after shortstop Jared Jackson left what could have been a double play ball in the dirt.
USA reliever Christian Bannister, who came in to start the eighth, got himself into a bases-loaded situation in the ninth and plunked Recuenco to bring in one run. Scott Kuzminsky was brought in to face Charlie Strandland and on Kuzminskys first pitch he hit into a double play that ended the game.
Canada made just two errors as compared with the USAs three. Both teams showed significant defensive improvement as the tournament went on. Foster was wishing hed had more practice time with his teammates to prepare.
It was tough, theres pretty good competition here but a lot of games we shot ourselves in the foot, kicking the ball around, just little things that add up in a tournament like this, said Foster, one eight Prince George players on Canadas roster. At the pro level theyll capitalize on mistakes, where at a lower level you get away with it. We didnt get away with errors here.
We know were the host country and wanted to put on a good show and in the last couple days we fought pretty hard with some fun baseball. It was just a little too late.