Baseball Canada Announces Junior National Team’s Spring Training Camp Roster and Schedule
OTTAWA, ON - Baseball Canada has announced the Junior National Team’s roster and schedule for the annual Spring Training Camp, which will take place from April 10-20 at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Florida.
The roster will feature 29 Canadian prospects, including Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) and Carter Bell (Courtenay, BC). The camp will serve as an evaluation of the team as it prepares for the World Junior Baseball Championship in Edmonton from July 25th-August 3rd, 2008.
The Junior National Team will take on Major League affiliated teams of the Atlanta Braves, Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros.
For the complete roster and schedule of the Junior National Team, click here.
WBC Groups and Sites Announced
OTTAWA, ON – Major League Baseball announced in Tokyo, Japan the groupings and sites for the first round of the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
Canada will be once again paired with the United States in Pool C who will play its games at the Rogers Centre in Toronto from March 8-12. Pool C will also include Venezuela and Italy.
“That’s going to be unbelievable,” says Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Jason Bay in an interview with the Canadian Press. “Just seeing how many Canadian jerseys there were in Arizona was awesome. With the reception it got the first go, to do that again in Toronto would be even better.”
The Canadians were eliminated in the first round of the 2006 Classic due to allowing more runs per nine innings than the U.S. and Mexico after all three teams finished 2-1.
For the ’09 edition, the tournament has adopted a double-knockout elimination format rather than the straight round-robin which means a team will have to lose twice before being eliminated. Bay feels that the team Canada can field should definitely be able to get out of the first round this time around.
“If all the Canadian guys who are out there are healthy and can play, we’re definitely not an also-ran.”
“We’ve got some legitimate starting pitching and a full starting nine that’s pretty good. We can make some noise.”
The other groups were also announced with Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and China playing in Pool A out of Tokyo. Mexico City will host Pool B and Mexico, Cuba, Australia and South Africa and Pool D will comprise of Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Panama and Netherlands who will play out of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Schedules and host cities for all other rounds will be announced at a later date.
British Columbia Youngsters Will Get an Experience of a Lifetime
OTTAWA, ON – Since 2001, Canada has had the privilege of sending a small contingent of kids to a different country to take part in the experience that is the World Children’s Baseball Fair. This year, British Columbia has the honor of representing the country at the 19th edition of the fair.
The event, which will take place from July 28th to August 8th in Aichi, Japan, was founded by legendary sluggers Sadaharu Oh and Hank Aaron in the interest of promoting baseball and providing an opportunity to develop international relationships, goodwill and cultural understanding among the youth of the world.
In years past, the provinces selected to represent Canada at the event were only able to select five kids to go at the fair. This year, BC has the distinctive opportunity to send a team of 15 players over to Japan.
“We’re getting the unique chance of playing in an exhibition series with the other counties selected,” says David Laing, Program Director for Baseball BC. “We play each country once with the emphasis on having fun and not on winning, which I really appreciate.”
Player selection is divided into three, between BC Minor, Babe Ruth BC and Little League BC who will be selecting from each respective memberships to construct the team.
The associations asked each applicant to write a small essay along with their application form to explain why they would benefit from the experience of going to the WCBF. But Laing adds that they are not necessarily looking for the best players.
“We’re looking to send the kids who will benefit the most from this cultural exchange opportunity.”
There will also be three and not just one chaperone this year. Each association will send one chaperone to the event. Babe Ruth and Little League have yet to announce who they will send as chaperones, but BC Minor will send Mike Sarai, a long time volunteer with the association.
“We felt that this was an excellent opportunity to recognize some long standing volunteers and for someone who has given so much of their time, this is a tremendous reward for them,” says Laing.
This event will be a unique opportunity for the players and chaperones alike. Baseball is the foundation that will bring these people together, but they will have the chance to savour some diversity.
“I’m hopeful the kids will get to meet people from other countries and get to learn a little bit about the world. Also they will really get to see first hand and up close another culture and see how they go about their lives,” says Laing.
Each province will get a chance to represent Canada at the WCBF. Alberta, Saskatchewan, PEI, Ontario, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Manitoba have all represented Canada since 2001. Québec will get the honour next year with Nova Scotia to follow in 2010.
Canada Wins, Finishes First
TAICHUNG, Taiwan – With Canada qualifying for the Olympics the night before, the only thing on the line is this game was a spot at the top of the standings of the Final Olympic Qualifier and it took a bases loaded walk in the tenth inning for Canada to beat Germany 2-1 in the tournament finale.
The Canadians began the tenth with a leadoff walk to Stubby Clapp (Windsor, ON), followed by Emmanuel Garcia (Montreal, QC) reaching by error and Adam Stern drawing a walk to load the bases.
Clapp was forced out at home on a fielder’s choice by Ryan Radmanovich (Calgary, AB), which kept the bases loaded with two out. Then Emerson Frostad (Calgary, AB) drew the bases loaded walk to force in Garcia and get the win.
This game was a pitcher’s duel to the bitter end. Brooks McNiven (Vancouver, BC) got the start for Canada and threw four shutout innings, giving up only two hits and a pair of walks with three strikeouts.
“I just tried to stay focused on what I was doing and try and throw first pitch strikes and go right at the hitters,” says McNiven.
On the German side, André Hughes went eight and 1/3 innings, giving up one run on six hits and two walks with eight punch outs. The only run came off a home run in the fourth inning by David Corrente (Chatham, ON).
The Germans would tie the game in the sixth inning on a pair of doubles off of Jamie Richmond (Mississauga, ON) to make it 1-1.
The Germans almost took the lead in the inning on a single from Simon Guhring as Jendrick Speer was being waved in, but Radmanovich threw a strike from right field to the plate to get the out and end the inning.
From there, Richmond took control as he would go four innings, giving up the one run on three hits with three strikeouts.
Steve Green (Greenfield Park, QC) came in relief of Richmond and would only give up one hit with four strikeouts in two innings of work.
“The pitching staff did a really good job again today. They kept us in the game,” says Manager Terry Puhl.
Canada finishes the tournament with a 6-1 record and first place. The Canadians wanted to send a message to the other countries competing at the Olympics.
“The goal coming in was to qualify for the Olympics and open everybody else’s eyes that we’re not just cruising into this but that we’re here to win,” says McNiven.
“We’re going into the Olympics with the goal of medaling and show everyone that we can play ball too,” says Stubby Clapp.
The Canadians are returning from Taiwan to their respecting clubs on Saturday, March 15th to finish Spring Training and begin their professional seasons. Team Canada will reunite for the Beijing Olympic Games which are scheduled to go from August 8th – 24th.
Canada Is Going to Beijing
TAICHUNG, Taiwan – Canada accomplished its mission in Taiwan and qualified for the Beijing Olympic Games with a 4-3 win over Korea at the Final Olympic Qualifier.
Canada came in the ninth inning with a 4-1 lead, but Korea gave the Canadians a little scare as they would score two runs on a ground out by Kab Yong Jin and a single by Joo Chan Kim to shrink the Canadian lead to one.
But with two outs in the inning and a runner on first, Mike Kusiewicz (Ottawa, ON) got In Sung Cho to hit a comebacker to the mound and Kusiewicz threw over to first baseman Jimmy VanOstrand (Richmond, BC) for the final out and the beginning of the celebration.
“This is what we’ve been pointing to for a year and a half now,” says Manager Terry Puhl. “I’ve never been in this type of baseball atmosphere. It’s very exciting.”
Korea got the first point on the board in the top of the first inning with a pair of doubles to start the game from Yong Kyu Lee and Jong Wook Lee to give the Koreans a 1-0 lead.
But the Canadians would respond quickly in the bottom of the first on Matt Rogelstad’s (New Westminster, BC) three-run homer to put Canada ahead 3-1.
From there, James Avery (Moose Jaw, SK) shut the door on the Korean lineup. He would throw four innings, allowing one run on four hits with four strikeouts.
“That was a big game for us. We wanted to take care of business today and not leave it until tomorrow,” says Avery. “We wanted to show that we’re not just here to beat the teams that we’re supposed to beat, but that we can beat the best teams.”
“I’m speechless. I don’t even know what to say. Being a part of something with 30 guys is pretty special. I’ve never been in a pile like that before. I can barely think.”
In the fourth inning, Canada added to one run to their lead on the third home run of the tourney and third in many days from Nick Weglarz (Stevensville, ON), which turned out to be the winning run.
“I guess I’m just seeing the ball well,” says Weglarz of his home run and was 2-for-3 in the game. “(Rob Ducey) told me just pretend like your swinging in your back yard. That way you don’t over think, you’re just swinging.”
“I don’t think there are words to describe how I fell right now. It’s a dream come true,” adds Weglarz of going to the Olympics.
The pitchers would then use their experience to continue to shut down the Koreans. Scott Richmond (Langley, BC) would throw four shutout innings, giving up only a pair of hits with three strikeouts in relief of Avery.
“I just wanted to make sure to follow in Avery’s footsteps and pound the zone,” says Richmond. “We just wanted to make sure we made them uncomfortable. They’ve been pretty comfortable this whole tournament and we wanted to make sure we would reverse the roles.”
T.J. Burton (Ottawa, ON) and Kusiewicz would then finish off the Koreans in the ninth for the win and a trip to Beijing.
“We had good pitching when we needed good pitching. The bullpen was outstanding and I can’t say enough about our hitters and how they took care of the left handed pitching we faced,” says Puhl.
Before Canada can prepare for their trip to the Olympics, They have one final game against Germany on Friday, March 14th at 4:30 pm.
Canada Makes Easy Work of Spain
TAICHUNG, Taiwan – After an emotional game against Chinese Taipei, Canada came out swinging and shut down Spain defensively in coasting to a 11-0 win in seven innings at the Final Olympic Qualifer.
Aaron Wideman (Mississauga, ON) was at his best, going four innings and giving up only three hits in his start for Canada.
“It felt good today. It was a feeling of comfort today,” says Wideman. “It relieves so much stress for a pitcher to go out there and be comfortable and with this group of guys the comfort level is through the roof.”
Alexandre Periard (St. Eustache, QC) was just as effective in relief, allowing only one hit with two strikeouts in the remaining three innings of the game.
“I was just trying to get the first pitch strike today, get my pitches down in the zone and pound the ball inside. It felt pretty good,” says Periard.
Offensively, Canada got off to a quick start with four runs in the first inning. Emerson Frostad (Calgary, AB) hit a two-run double to score Stubby Clapp (Windsor, ON) and Mike Saunders (Victoria, BC) to get things started.
After a Matt Rogelstad (New Westminster, BC) single, Jimmy VanOstrand (Richmond, BC) drove in Frostad with a double of his own and Rogelstad scored on a David Corrente single to put Canada ahead 4-0.
The Canadians scored their fifth run in the third inning on the second home run of the tournament and second in two games by Nick Weglarz (Stevensville, ON).
“I’m just trying to see it and hit it,” says Weglarz. “I’m trying to stick with my plan. Not swinging out of my zone, not swinging at bad pitches and seeing the ball.”
The fourth inning would see the Canadians add four more runs on only two hits with a sacrifice fly and four walks.
Adam Stern (London, ON) singled to start the inning, followed by a pair of walks to Clapp and Frostad to lead the bases. Rogelstad hit an infield single that brought in Stern, then a pair of bases loaded walks to VanOstrand and Weglarz brought in Clapp and Frostad. Corrente hit a sacrifice fly to score Rogelstad and put Canada ahead 9-0 after an inning that saw them send 10 batters to the plate.
Canada would put the nail in the coffin of the Spaniards with two runs in the sixth inning on a two-RBI single by Stern to score VanOstrand and Weglarz and complete the mercy win.
“We got good pitching today and we came out swinging the bats,” says Manager Terry Puhl. “It’s very good that we didn’t come out flat. We had such a big game with Taipei that we could’ve come out flat, but this team is all business.”
The Canadians are now 4-1 in the tournament and are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“I can start to taste it,” says Weglarz. “If we can win against Korea that’ll take alot of pressure off and pretty much guarantees our spot (in the Olympics).”
Canada now takes on Korea on Thursday, March 13 at 6:30 pm. James Avery (Moose Jaw, SK) is scheduled to start.
Canada Wins Wild One Against Chinese Taipei
TAICHUNG, Taiwan – In what can only be described as perhaps the wildest and perhaps biggest win in Baseball Canada history, Canada fought off a hostile crowd and a one run deficit in the top of the ninth to overcome Chinese Taipei 6-5 in ten innings at the Final Olympic Qualifier.
In what was already a heated contest with both benches clearing in the eighth inning, Canada had their backs against the wall with two out in the top of the ninth inning trailing 5-4. Then, Stubby Clapp (Windsor, ON) legged out an infield single, diving head first to the bag to beat the throw and keep the Canadians alive.
Mike Saunders (Victoria, BC) followed that up with a single to right that allowed Clapp to score and tie the game for the Canadians.
From there, Steve Green (Greenfield Park, QC) silenced the Chinese Taipei offence with a one-two-three bottom ninth, with two strikeouts, to put the game into extras.
In the tenth inning, Matt Rogelstad (New Westminster, BC) led off with a single to bring up Jimmy VanOstrand (Richmond, BC). VanOstrand would hit a double which brought around Rogelstad with the go-ahead run to the elation of the Canadian dugout.
Chinese Taipei however would not go down without a fight as they would have runners on first and second with one out in the bottom of the tenth. But Mike Kusiewicz (Ottawa, ON) got Yi Chuan Lin to ground into the game ending double play and put Canada at a 3-1 record at the tournament.
“I can’t even talk right now. Incredible the way... I mean, after what happened with that brawl the guys came out, showed alot of heart. Obviously we didn’t give up,” says Kusiewicz who got the final two outs of the game. “This is the most incredible game I’ve ever seen or been a part of. I’m just happy to be here.”
“I can’t describe it. This is the most fun I’ve ever had in my life on the baseball field,” says VanOstrand, who was 3-for-5 along with driving in the winning run.
“I was told by Terry (Puhl) that if (Rogelstad) got on that we would put on a hit and run. The count came into my favour and we put it on and... Everything happened right,” says VanOstrand of his tenth inning hit.
“Oh my God! This win ranks pretty high up there. I mean our program was on the line tonight,” says Clapp, who was 2-for-5 and scored twice, including the tying run. “If we lose that game, it would have been tough to come back and qualify. The way the guys prevailed after all the incidents... They kept their focus and I can’t say enough at how well they settled down and played the game. My hat’s off to them.”
The game would see three lead changes as Chinese Taipei opened the scoring with a pair of runs in the first inning to take a 2-0 lead.
Canada would respond in the third a pair of their own after Saunders drove in Emmanuel Garcia (Montreal, QC) with a single and Ryan Radmanovich (Calgary, AB) with a RBI single to score Adam Stern (London, ON) to tie the game, 2-2.
Canada would take the lead in the fifth when Radmanovich would drive in his second run of the game on a fielders’ choice to score Clapp. Saunders broke up a double play to allow Canada to take the lead on the play.
They would add to their lead in the sixth on a solo home run from Nick Weglarz (Stevensville, ON) to make it 4-2 Canada.
But Chinese Taipei would quickly turn things around in the bottom half of the sixth when Kuo-Hui Lo hit a three-run homer to give Taipei the lead 5-4.
Then fireworks would erupt in the eighth inning when Canada was threatening to tie. Pinch-hitter Emerson Frostad (Calgary, AB) hit a two-out single with VanOstrand trying to score from second. The throw from the outfield beat VanOstrand as he would try to run over the catcher Chun-Chang Yeh. However, Yeh held on to the ball for the out and flipped the ball directly at VanOstrand.
VanOstrand turned around to confront Yeh, which cleared the benches of both teams. From there, fans began throwing debris on the field at the Canadians, which forced the Taiwanese police to intervene. After a delay of several minutes to make sure the situation was under control with the fans, Canada would generate perhaps one of the most exciting comebacks in Baseball Canada history.
“This will go down as one of the greatest games I have ever been involved in with Team Canada,” says Manager Terry Puhl. “There are so many heroes on this team tonight, just one after another you can name them.”
Canada has an off day on Tuesday and will return to action on Wednesday, March 12 at 12:30 pm against Spain.
Canada Suffers Setback Against Australia
TAICHUNG, Taiwan – The Canadians allowed two big innings and could not quite comeback from the deficit as they would suffer the loss against Australia by a score of 10-5 at the Final Olympic Qualifier.
Australia would put together two four-run innings and it would turn out to be enough to take down the Canadians.
“We just gave them too many runs. You can’t win many ball games when you give up 10 runs,” says Manager Terry Puhl.
The game started off well for Canada with a solo home run by Jimmy VanOstrand (Richmond, BC), who was 2-for-3 in the game, in the second inning to take a 1-0 lead.
It would turn out to be the only lead the Canadians would have in this one as Australia would get their first four run inning in the third. Four runs on four hits and an error against Canadian starter Brooks McNiven (Vancouver, BC) to take a 4-1 lead.
Meanwhile, Aussie starter Steve Kent was frustrating the Canadian offence, allowing three runs on six hits with one walk in six innings of work.
In that time, the Aussies would put together their second four run inning in the fifth. Australia would load the bases on Jamie Richmond (Mississauga, ON) and Brett Roneberg would clear them with a three-RBI double. In total, four runs on four hits in the inning gave Australia a 8-1 lead.
The Canadians were able to produce a bit of a comeback in the seventh inning. VanOstrand lead off the inning with a single and Matt Rogelstad (New Westminster, BC) would follow with a two-run home run to reduce the lead to 8-3.
Canada would have the bases loaded with one out in the inning and Mike Saunders (Victoria, BC) at the plate. Saunders would hit a ground ball to second and seemed to have beat out a double play, but first base umpire L.K. Hsieh of Taiwan called Saunders out at first, to the protest of Saunders and Puhl, killing any rally.
“It was an obvious bad call and it cost us a run and you never know what would’ve happened after that,” says Puhl.
The Canadians were determined however. Nick Weglarz (Stevensville, ON) lead off the eighth inning with a single and Ryan Radmanovich would follow with a two-run homer to bring the Aussie lead down to 8-5. That would be as close as Canada would get.
Australia would add a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth for insurance and that would prove to be the final runs of this game.
“It was a tough loss, but no one said it would be easy,” says Radmanovich, who was 1-for-4 on the day. “Unfortunately today we came up on the short end of the stick.”
“It’s one ball game. We’ve already moved on. There’s nothing you can do about it, you just come back and focus on the game at hand,” says Puhl.
Up next for Canada is Chinese Taipei on Monday, March, 10th at 6:30 pm. Jonathan Lockwood (Toronto, ON) is scheduled for the start.
Canada Mercies South Africa
TAICHUNG, Taiwan – With the help of a six-run inning and an outstanding performance from Brett Gray (Petrolia, ON), Canada takes out South Africa in seven innings by a score of 10-0 at the Final Olympic Qualifier.
Gray, who is pitching with an injured shoulder, put together a terrific performance with a four inning outing, allowing only three hits and a walk with three strikeouts and in the process, helped save some arms with his feat.
“To go out there and throw four (innings) meant the world to me,” says Gray. “I’m a little banged up with my arm so my (pitches) weren’t all that good, but the defence played awesome and it just felt good to get out there and get another win.”
“I can’t say enough about Brett Gray,” says Manager Terry Puhl. “He gave a really gutsy effort.”
The Canadians opened the scoring in the third inning with a sacrifice fly from Mike Saunders (Victoria, BC) to score Emmanuel Garcia (Montreal, QC) and finished off the game with a walk off home run from Chris Robinson (Dorchester, ON).
It’s been a while since I’ve done that,” says Robinson with a laugh of his 4-for-4 performance with a double, the homer and two RBI. “We came into this game with a must win attitude. We handled ourselves well against a scrappy team and we knew that coming in and we were ready for them and we really battled.”
“I’ve been working really hard with (hitting coach Rob Ducey) and it felt pretty good,” adds Robinson of his home run.
Matt Rogelstad (New Westminster, BC) and Nick Weglarz (Stevensville, ON) scored in the fourth inning to put Canada ahead 3-0.
The fifth inning saw the Canadians explode for six runs and put the dagger in the heart of the South-Africans. Saunders and Ryan Radmanovich (Calgary, AB) got things going by each drawing a walk against Shadley Sasman. After a wild pitch from new pitcher Gavin Jeffries advanced the runners, Rogelstad hit a sacrifice fly to score Saunders.
After a single from Emerson Frostad (Calgary, AB) and a walk to Weglarz, Robinson drove in one of his two runs with an RBI single to score Radmanovich and put Canada ahead 5-0.
The lead would go to 7-0 on Garcia’s RBI single which scored Frostad and Weglarz. Robinson then came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Adam Stern (London, ON) and Garcia scored on a RBI single from Stubby Clapp (Windsor, ON) to complete the inning’s scoring.
From there, Alexandre Periard (St. Eustache, QC) and Aaron Wideman (Mississauga, ON) took care of business in relief of Gray. Periard threw two scoreless innings, allowing only two hits with two strikeouts and Wideman threw a perfect inning, striking out a pair.
“Periard and Wideman did a nice job, which is what we needed,” says Puhl.
Then Robinson closed out the game with his leadoff walk off homer.
Robinson had as good a game as you can ask for,” says Puhl. When you get that kind of offence from both Chris and David (Corrente), it makes managing alot easier.”
Now, Canada’s attention turns to Australia who they are very familiar with.
“We got to come out and set ourselves up going into the off day to be in good position,” says Robinson, “but it’s one game at a time and hopefully we’ll put ourselves in a spot tomorrow to come out with the win.”
Canada’s matchup with Australia goes Sunday, March 9th at 12:30 pm.
Canada Pounds Out Win in Olympic Qualifier Opener
TAICHUNG, Taiwan – It was a slugfest between these two teams as they would combine for 25 runs and 36 hits with Canada coming out on top in their opener of the Final Olympic Qualifying Tournament with a 15-10 win.
When it was all said and done in this one, Canada would scatter 18 hits with every hitter in the lineup getting at least one hit.
“That’s a big win for us right off the bat,” says Stubby Clapp (Windsor, ON) who was 1-for-4 with a double, RBI and a run scored. “It wasn’t pretty, but we hung in there and kept swinging the bats and our pitchers kept going out there, attacking the strike zone and they did a great job.”
The offence got started early and would not stop the entire game. Canada got on the board first in the first inning when Mike Saunders (Victoria, BC) hit a RBI triple to score Stubby Clapp (Windsor, ON) for the first run of the game. Saunders would later score on a RBI single from Matt Rogelstad to put the Canadians ahead 2-0.
Canada would add one run in the second inning and three in the third to take a 6-0 lead, but they would quickly see it evaporate.
Mexico would respond with an eight run bottom of the third, including a two-run homer from Carlos Valencia to pull ahead 8-6.
“That’s international baseball because you just never know,” says Manager Terry Puhl. “Mexico has a lot of experienced hitters and they got back into the game. They just kept coming at us every inning and that’s a trademark of this ball club.”
But the Canadians would come up with a rebuttal of their own in the fourth inning, putting up three runs to take a 9-8 lead.
Ryan Radmanovich (Calgary, AB) would get things started with a two out single and move to second on a Rogelstad walk. Jimmy VanOstrand (Richmond, BC) would bring around Radmanovich on a RBI single and both he and Rogelstad would come in to score on the triple from Nick Weglarz (Stevensville, ON), who was 2-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored.
With Canada ahead 10-8 in the seventh inning, they would put up another five runs to cement their lead. Adam Stern (London, ON) would double in David Corrente (Chatham, ON) and Emmanuel Garcia (Montreal, QC), who had both reached base to start the inning, then VanOstrand, who was 3-for-5 with four RBI in the game, would drive in Radmanovich and Rogelstad with a triple to complete the Canadian scoring.
“It’s a good start for us to beat a tough team like Mexico,” says Rogelstad, who was 3-for-4 with three runs and drove in the winning run. “We came out the gates ready to play. We got some runs early in the game and we were able to keep that going.”
Canada would shut down the Mexican offence the rest of the game as Steve Green (Greenfield Park, QC) and T.J. Burton (Ottawa, ON) would combine to blank Mexico for two and 2/3 innings to solidify the win.
Canada’s next game at the Final Olympic Qualifier comes on Saturday, March 8th at 12:30 pm against South Africa.