With Canada’s 4-3 victory over South Korea and Taiwan’s 4-0 win over South Africa, the final three teams for the 2008 Olympics are set.
Canada and Taiwan will join South Korea, which qualified earlier in the tournament for the Olympics, along with the United States, Cuba, China, Japan and the Netherlands at the 2008 Beijing Games in August. This year will mark the first time since baseball was introduced as a medal sport in 1992 that four Asian countries will be competing.
Canadian outfielders Nick Weglarz and Matt Rogelstad each homered to help Canada hand South Korea its first loss of the final Olympic qualifier. Rogelstad, a Nationals farmhand, hit a two-run homer in the first inning before Weglarz, the Indians’ No. 6 prospect, added another run in the fourth with his third home run of the tournament. South Korea entered the top of the ninth inning trailing 4-1 and was able to score two runs in the bottom of the ninth before Canadian reliever Michael Kusievicz recorded the final out.
South Africa provided some competition for Taiwan, which mustered just five hits, but Taiwan ultimately prevailed with a 4-0 victory. Taiwan starter Chieng-Ming Chiang struck out six in six innings of work. South Africa starter and former Royals farmhand Barry Armitage pitched well in his third start of the qualifier, lasting seven innings and allowing three runs, but the game was the fourth of South Africa’s six games in the tournament in which it did not score a run.
Australia scored nine runs in the first four innings against Spain and four pitchers combined to throw a one-hitter in Australia’s 9-0 victory. Former Padres farmhand Ben Risinger went 4-for-5 and drove in four runs for Australia. Former Mariners minor leaguer Brendan Kingman added three hits for Australia, while former White Sox minor leaguer Tom Brice added two hits. Luke Hughes, who played for Double-A New Britain last year in the Twins farm system, also had two hits.
Australia limited Spain to just one hit on the night, a second-inning single by Devis Navarro. Australia starter Greg Wiltshire struck out four through the first four innings before the trio of Chris Mowaday, former Phillies minor leaguer Mark Kelly and current Tigers farmhand Brendan Wise finished the combined one-hitter.
Mexico picked up its third straight win with a 4-0 victory against Germany.
|FINAL QUALIFIER STANDINGS|
TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE (Taiwan local date and time)
Friday, March 14: Spain vs. Mexico, South Africa vs. Australia, Taiwan vs. South Korea, Canada vs. Germany