Psota, teammates face U.S. in baseball semi-final

Canada gave a valiant effort but in the end came up just short in dropping a 9-7 decision to Japan in the final round-robin game at the 5th IBAF Women’s Baseball World Cup in Edmonton on Friday (Aug. 17).

Canada’s first loss of the tournament puts the team in second place after round-robin competition and sets-up a semi-final contest with Team USA whom Canada defeated 15-9 in an extra-inning thriller earlier in the tournament. That game is scheduled for Saturday (Aug. 18).

Down 9-3 in the top of the seventh, Canada thrilled the crowd of 5,100 with a stirring comeback that saw them score four runs and threaten for more before Japan turned a 1-2-3 double-play with the bases loaded to end the game.

“I would have been disappointed had our team folded up after being down earlier in the game, but we show a lot of character nearly coming back,” said Canadian Manager André Lachance. “I’m not too concerned about tomorrow after tonight’s loss. I know our team won’t have any trouble getting up for tomorrow’s game.”

Nicole Luchanski (Edmonton) led off the game with a double to left field, advanced to third on an Ashley Stephenson (Mississauga) single and later scored on Kate Psota’s (Burlington) RBI ground out.

Canada outhit Japan 15 to nine and for the sixth time in the tournament recorded double digits in hits.

“I think we have five players hitting above .500 which tells you how successful we’ve been so far,” said Lachance.

Japan scored four runs off starter Brinley McLaren (Brantford), who only lasted 1 2/3 innings and gave up five hits, while walking three. She was replaced by Tara Sliwkanich (Fort Saskatchewan, AB) who gave-up five runs including three in the fourth where three runs were scored on a bases clearing triple.

Down 9-1 in the fifth, Canada scored twice to close the gap to six when Luchanski scored on a sacrifice-fly from Stéphanie Savoie (Québec) and Jennifer Gilroy (Mississauga) picked up an RBI single.

Luchanski once again had a nice day at the plate going 3-for-4 with a double after a 4-for-5 game against Cube on Thursday, while Gilroy had two hits and two RBI.

Hannah Martensen (Ottawa) came on for the fifth and sixth innings and managed a strikeout in two perfect innings.

Canada began mounting a comeback in the top of the seventh exploding for four runs. Savoie doubled to lead off the inning and came around to score on a double from Gilroy. Meagan Cornelssen (Grande-Prairie, AB), Bradi Wall (Swift Current, SK) and Jenna Flannigan (Cornwall, ON) also had RBI singles before Japan recorded the double play with the bases loaded to end the game.

Flannigan also was a major contributor on offense as she went 3-for-4 to bring her tournament average to .565.

Tomorrow’s semi-final with the United States is shaping up to be the game of the tournament as the American’s will be looking to avenge the loss to Canada earlier in the tournament in front of what promises to be a pro-Canadian crowd.

“Neither team will need to be motivated for tomorrow’s game,” said Lachance. “We have a natural rivalry and both sides will be hungry for a win which should make for a great game.”

The other semi-final will see Japan take-on Australia.

Notes: Saturday’s game against Team USA will begin at 9:30pm ET and the game can be heard live on-line:

On Thursday, the Canadian offensive juggernaut was on display again as Canada smashed-out 16 hits to record a third mercy-rule victory of the tournament, a 12-2 thumping of Cuba.

Four of the 16 hits came off the bat of second baseman Luchanski, who had a triple and three singles to go along with two RBI and two runs scored.

After starter Psota tossed a scoreless first inning Luchanski started the bottom of the first with a single and came around to score the game’s first run on Savoie’s double. Stephenson also scored on the play after following Luchanski’s single with a base-hit.

Canada scored four more runs in the first inning which included a two-run double from Becky Hartley (White Rock, BC).

Psota tossed three scoreless innings giving up only three hits while striking out one. In the fourth Heidi Northcott (Rocky Mountain House, AB) came on for her first action of the tournament.

Northcott tossed two innings and allowed an unearned run off a Canadian error in recording the win. Canada committed two errors on the evening which is rare for the normally strong defensive club.

With Canada leading 9-2 in the bottom of the sixth Flannigan doubled to right-centre to bring home two runs and later scored the game’s winning run on an RBI single from Luchanski.