Junior Men`s Worlds - Day 10
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Canada wins silver medal at ISF Junior Mens World Championships
In the bronze medal game, Japan won the coin toss and elected to bat first to jump all over Canada early, which was exactly what they did, scoring two runs in the top of the first on a homerun. Canada came right back in the bottom of the second though, as Jessin Potskin (Prince George, BC) led off with a single, was sacrificed to second by Shane Boland (Goulds, NL) and was driven home on a two-run homerun by Dan Mitchell (Paris, ON). Two batters later, Terrell Walker (Balcarres, SK) stepped up to the plate and delivered a solo homerun of his own, giving Canada a 3-2 lead.
That lead would hold until the top of the seventh. Canada quickly retired the two first batters, and was one out away from reaching the tournament final. However, the Japanese hitter hit a deep fly to right field that cleared the fence for a game-tying homerun. Rather than get down on themselves for the wasted opportunity, Canada was lifted when Terrell Walker hit a grounder to shortstop that bounced of the chest of the Japanese defender. Then, Dylan Cunningham (Belwood, ON) connected with a walk-off two-run homerun to deep centerfield, sending the Canadian bench and crowd into a frenzy.
Dustin Keshane (Norquay, SK) threw the complete game for Canada, his third one in three straight games. Keshane surrendered two runs on only three hits, and struck out 12 Japanese hitters along the way, including all three batters in the second and fourth innings. At the plate, Mitchell and Walker each had a homerun and a single, while Jessin Potskin added a pair of singles and Cunningham had the game-winning drive.
In the Championship game, Canada surprisingly went back to their second ace, Devon McCullough (Saskatoon, SK) who hadnt pitched since Thursday. Many fans had predicted Keshane would throw once again given the success he had in the past three games. However, head coach Tom Doucette gave the ball to McCullough, and he certainly did not disappoint.
The game quickly unfolded into a pitchers duel between McCullough and Aussie pitcher Matt Stafford, as both pitchers did not surrender a run through the first seven innings. In fact, both McCullough and Stafford had only surrendered two hits up to that point.
In the top of the eighth, Canada started with Jessin Potskin on second base due to the International Tie-Breaker rule. After Cory Jones (Leduc, AB) failed to get a bunt down, he more than made up for it with a solid RBI single up the middle, pushing Potskin to home, giving Canada a 1-0 lead going into the bottom of the inning.
Australia also started with a runner on second base, but Canada came extremely close to negate that runner on the opening hitter. The first hitter hit a fly ball to left field, which looked like it was going to drop in but Mike Noftall (St. Johns NL) ran in to make the play and fired a bullet to second base to attempt to pick off the runner on second base. It was a very close play at second, but the runner was called safe, giving Australia a ray of hope. The next batter singled and stole second base, putting runner on second and third with only one out. McCullough was able to force the next hitter to hit a soft groundball right back to him as he looked the runner on third back and threw the ball over to first for the second out. The Aussies called on pinch-hitter Drew Faulkner, who came up with the game-winning hit up the middle to score both runners, giving Australia its fourth straight Junior Mens World Championship title.
It was a tough way to lose, but two inches to the left and (Terrell) Walker gets that ball and throws the runner out at first commented Canadian head coach Tom Doucette. (Dustin) Keshane is a tremendous pitcher and had the hot hand, but we made the right decision to come back to (Devon) McCullough. He pitched a heck of a game for us and came one pitch away from a World Championship.
The final line on McCullough was two runs on four hits and three walks with three strikeouts. Canada managed three hits in the game, two by Jones and one by Walker.
As a result, Canada was awarded with the silver medal, while Japan took the bronze and Australia the gold, putting an end to the 2008 ISF Junior Mens World Championships. The organizing committee did a tremendous job over the course of the past 10 days and even the past few months. Softball Canada would like to thank them for their excellent work and hospitality, as well as to the players who gave their best effort and the fans who supported the team until the last pitch!
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