By Christian J. Stewart (ISN), With Files from Baseball Canada and IBAF
Seoul, South Korea (ISN) – Victoria’s Jesse Hodges and the Canadian Junior National Baseball team continued their amazing run at the IBAF U18 World Championships with a 10-1 win over Panama on Tuesday to clinch their pool and then a tense 1-0 win over the United States Wednesday morning in the first game of Round 2.
Victoria’s Jesse Hodges, the lone British Columbia player on the squad, continues to contribute, as he was 2 for 5 with an RBI in the rout of Panama and was 2 for 4 against the U.S. before being ejected in the 8th for arguing balls and strikes.
In Canada’s rout of Panama, they hammered out fourteen hits, including eight doubles and Brock Dykxhoorn (Goderich, ON) provided 7 1/3 solid innings on the mound in the 10-1 win.
The win gave Canada first place in Group B with a 4-1 record to set up their date with the United States, the first of three second round games.
Canada will play Colombia tomorrow and host Korea on Friday. At the conclusion of the second round, first and second place will meet for gold, while third and fourth spot will play to decide the bronze medal.
The Canadian boys came out of the gate firing in the top of the first as Jacob Robson (Windsor, ON) led-off with an infield single and Kyle Hann (Oakville, ON) wacked a double to right field that saw Robson score and Hann end up on third after the fielder misplayed the ball.
Hann scored on a wild-pitch and Canada got off to the quick start they were looking for.
Canadian starter Brock Dykxhoorn was efficient working the top half of the first as he managed a strikeout, ground out and foul out on only eight pitches to get his team back on offence.
Just as they did in the top of the first, Canada kept rolling as Mitchell Triolo (Scarborough, ON) doubled to the gap in left to score Josh Naylor and Nathan DeSouza (Milton, ON) doubled to right which brought in Owen Spiwak (Mississauga, ON) and Triolo.
Brett Siddall (Windsor, ON) and Josh Naylor (Mississauga, ON) each collected doubles in the top of the third and Canada jumped in front 6-0. The doubles were Canada’s fourth and fifth of the game in only the third inning.
Dykxhoorn had faced the minimum amount of hitter through three allowing only a walk that was erased by a double play.
“I just wanted to pound the strike zone early and get ahead of hitters,” said Dykxhoorn. “Once I did that I tried to use my secondary stuff to get them to swing late and it worked right from the start.”
The doubles parade continued in the fourth as Jacob Robson led-off with one to right-centre and moved to third on a base-hit from Kyle Hann.
After Nathan DeSouza walked, Gareth Morgan (Toronto, ON) hit into a fielder’s choice which scored Robson and Jesse Hodges (Victoria, BC) singled up the middle which brought in Hann.
Panama broke the shutout bid in the fifth when back-to-back singles, a fielder’s choice and wild-pitch brought in a run.
Canada added a pair of runs in the eighth when Brett Siddall smoked a double to deep centerfield which scored Gareth Morgan, and Siddall later scored on a wild pitch.
Siddall led the Canadian offence going 3-for-5 with two doubles, an RBI and two runs scored, while Robson, Hann, Hodges and Naylor had two hits apiece.
Dykxhoorn came back out for the bottom of the eighth, struck out the first batter he faced and them was replaced by Christian Botnick (Brampton, ON) who finished off the game.
“I was a little nervous when the game was postponed last night, but when I got to the park this morning I was calm,” explained Dykxhoorn. “(Pitching) Coach Chris Reitsma really helped me prepare for this start.”
Dykxhoorn’s start was tremendous start as he went 7 1/3 innings, allowing only one run on three hits and two walks, while striking out seven.
“My arm felt good (as the game went along) and there wasn’t any reason why I couldn’t go as long as I did,” he said.
Most important, the length of his start saved some arms in Canada’s bullpen which will come in handy with four crucial games left to play in just three days.
In Wednesday’s game with the United States, Canada has won the duel of neighbors, prevailing 1-0 in ten innings in a classic pitcher’s duel. Nathan Desouza drove in the game-winning run in the top of the tenth inning. Team USA couldn’t counter in the bottom half of the frame and lost the game. They are now 1-2, while Canada is 2-1.
Both teams had played a game in the morning, completing the first round with victories over Panama respective Australia. Under the lights of Jamsil Stadium offenses struggled against great pitching. The teams weren’t able to score in the first nine innings and the IBAF Extra Inning Rule came into effect.
Canada chose the standard procedure and moved the two placed runners over with a sac bunt. After an intentional base on balls to load the bases and creating the force play, Desouza got the job done with a RBI single through the left side of the infield to plate Chris Shaw. They couldn’t take more advantage of the bases-loaded, one-out situation when Gareth Morgan and Brett Siddall struck and popped out to send the inning into the bottom half.
But it didn’t matter a couple of minutes later. With runners on first and second, Team USA decided against the sac bunt. Dominic Nunez grounded into a double play and Jeremy Martinez ended the game with a fly out to right.
Besides the dramatic ending in extra innings, the story of the game was the pitching of both staffs. Ryan Kellogg, who was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the MLB Amateur Draft in June, but didn’t sign to join Arizona State University, started for Canada and dominated the US bats. In 8 2/3 innings the left-hander allowed just two hits and a walk in 8 2/3 innings. He struck out five, but had to settle for the no-decision due to the missing run support.
Garrett Williams and Ian Clarkin gave up more base runners, but matched Kellogg by putting zeroes on the board. Williams issued four hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings, while Clarkin conceded one hit and two base on balls in the following 2 1/3 frames. In the end Dayton Dawe got the win and Keegan Thompson the loss.