By Josh Chetwynd
REGENSBURG, GERMANY—Team Germany earned a rematch with Canada in the finals of this World Cup Qualifier and almost did it in historic style, beating Great Britain on Sunday 16-1 in a mercy rule-shortened seven-inning elimination contest.
German pitcher Enorbel Marquez Ramirez, who pitches in the Italian League in Rimini, took a no-hitter into the final inning, but lost it when Albert Cartwright (Phillies) chopped a single to left field to lead off the last frame. It would have been just the second no-hitter in World Baseball Classic history (the first coming from Shairon Martis for the Netherlands against Panama in the 2006 edition).
The host Germans play Canada at 1 p.m. ET with a spot in the 16-team field of the March 2013 WBC on the line.
By the time that drama unfolded, the game was already far out of reach. Germany struck immediately in the top of the first thanks to their first four hitters, who all reached base. A single by Donald Lutz (Reds) and sacrifice flies by Aaron Altherr (Phillies) and Jake Shaffer (Cardinals) scored a run apiece.
From that 3-0 lead, the game was never in doubt. Marquez Ramirez, whose fastball sat consistently around 88 mph, mixed in an array of breaking pitches that kept the British hitters off balance. In seven innings of work, the lefthander conceded just two hits and one unearned run, while striking out eight batters.
Germany’s offensive efforts were helped by seven British walks and four hit batsmen, but there were some offensive highlights. Altherr (2-for-3, three RBIs) hit a two-run home run as part of a four-run fifth inning. Matt Weaver (Braves), who hit a grand slam earlier in the tournament against the Czech Republic, slammed a three-run homer to highlight a six-run seventh inning. All told, Weaver went 3-for-4 with four RBIs. Other multiple hit performances came from former Twins farmhand Toby Gardenhire (3-for-5 with two RBIs) and Lutz (2-for-3, RBI).
The victory now sets up a rematch between Germany and Canada. After falling 16-7 to Canada on Saturday, Germany now can build on some momentum from this victory as well as the fact that Marquez Ramirez’s complete game allowed the Germans to save its bullpen for the finals on Monday. For Canada, it has out-scored opponents in this tournament 32-6 and benefit from the day off today. (In contrast, the final will be Germany’s fourth straight contest.)
While the Canadians do have catching depth, they will be without the services of Cole Armstrong (Marlins), who reportedly tore his Achilles tendon rounding first in Canada’s contest against Germany. The injury is expected to sideline Armstrong for six to nine months.