by John Manuel
March 8, 2006
Trailing heading into the ninth inning, Canada rallied for four runs off 17-year-old reliever Jared Elario and pulled out a first-round victory at Scottsdale Stadium.
Adam Stern (Red Sox) doubled home Ryan Radmanovich with the tying run in the ninth, and two wild pitches and a double by Sebastien Boucher (Mariners) helped the Canadians avoid what would have been an embarrassing and debilitating loss.
Shut down for four innings by Erik Bedard (who struck out six and gave up just two hits) South Africa rallied from a 3-0 deficit to lead 4-3, scoring four runs (three earned) off Paul Quantrill in the fifth inning. South Africa then fell behind again on a two-run homer by Corey Koskie (Blue Jays) before getting a run in the seventh and took the lead with three runs in the eighth. Second baseman Paul Bell, a former Brewers farmhand, hit a bases-loaded, three-run double to left field off Chris Reistma (Braves) to give South Africa an 8-7 edge.
“Usually, this is still early in spring training, and you don’t play with this intensity,” Koskie said. “There was no 75 to 80 percent out there today. It was 100 to 110 percent all the way through. Nobody was leaving anything behind. You saw that with our guys and their guys.”
Pitching was poor for both teams-the three-hour, 38-minute game featured 16 walks, eight South African wild pitches, three hit batsman and five errors.
“We’ve got the win now, and what we have to do is go home, get rested and be ready to face the Americans tomorrow,” Stern said.
Canada faces Team USA in its second game today at 4 p.m.