By Josh Chetwynd
REGENSBURG, GERMANY—Team Canada put on an offensive fireworks show, slamming five home runs en route to a 16-7 victory over Germany Saturday night in this World Baseball Classic Olympic Qualifier.
The win books Canada a spot in the finals and puts them tantalizing close to return to the WBC's main draw, in which Major League Baseball stars such as Justin Morneau, Joey Votto, Ryan Dempster and Brett Lawrie are likely candidates to participate.
Despite the final lopsided score, the Germans stuck close to the tournament favorites for the game's first six innings. Canada jumped out to a quick lead in the top of the first on a three-run home run from Jimmy Van Ostrand (Nationals), the first of two homers he'd hit in this game. Germany would answer back in the bottom of the second with three runs of its own, highlighted by a two-RBI single from Eric Suttle (Gary, American Association).
The two clubs traded runs in the third inning to put the score at 4-4. Van Ostrand hit his second homer to left field and the Germans countered with an RBI groundout by Jake Shaffer (Cardinals) that scored Donald Lutz (Reds).
But from there the game unfolded much like Canada's lopsided 11-1 win over Great Britain two nights earlier, when a close 3-1 game quickly became a shortened mercy rule result after one big Canadian inning. Canada would provide that fire power in the seventh, batting around and scoring five runs in the process. While Germany fought back in the bottom of the inning with a two-run rally of its own, Canada continued the scoring onslaught, plating an additional two in the eighth and six in the ninth.
Canada's star hitters included Van Ostrand, who finished the game 4-for-6 with three runs and five RBI; Tyson Gillies (Phillies), who went 3-for-5 with a home run, three runs and an RBI; and Adam Loewen (Mets) and Sean Bowman (Marlins), who both tallied 3-for-6 days. Two players—Jordan Lennerton (Tigers) and Rene Tosoni (Twins) came off the bench to contribute at the plate. Lennerton went 2-2 with a home run and two RBIs and Tosoni connected for a pinch-hit grand slam off fellow Twins farmhand Markus Solbach. On the German side, Suttle went 2-5 with two RBI and Aaron Altherr (Phillies) registered a 2-for-2 game with an RBI and run. Former Harvard player Matt Vance shined with a 3-for-5 performance.
While Canada can now rest until Monday's final, Germany will return to the field on Sunday to take on Great Britain, following Britain's 12-5 win over the Czech Republic. The British eliminated the Czechs from the completion in large part thanks to a strong pitching performance from Jacob Esch (Marlins). The righthander threw six strong innings, allowing just two runs on five hits, while walking zero and striking out three. He was backed by a three-hit performance by Albert Cartwright (Phillies) as well a 2-for-3 line, which included a home run, from former Mets farmhand B.J. Ropert-Hubbard. Aeden Mcqueary-Ennis, who previously played in the Pirates and Padres organizations, also chipped in three RBIs and three runs on a pair of hits.