Olympic Qualifier Roundup: Day 1

The first day of the final Olympic qualifier in Taiwan is in the books.

Canada defeated Mexico 15-10, jumping out to a 6-0 lead in the top of the third inning before Mexico rallied for eight runs in the bottom of the inning to take an 8-6 lead.  That was most of the damage Mexico did though, as Canada pounded out 18 hits and got some help from four Mexico errors on its way to victory. Astros outfielder Jimmy Van Ostrand, the No. 30 prospect in the Astros organization, went 3-for-5 with a triple for Canada.

South Korea picked up a 5-0 victory over South Africa, as three South Korean pitchers combined to limit South Africa to just two hits. South Korea starter Min Han Son allowed one hit in six innings, finishing with seven strikeouts and one walk.

Australia started of the tournament with a 4-1 victory over Germany, which entered the tournament after Great Britain withdrew. Germany starter Tim Henkenjohann lasted six innings but surrendered five walks and allowed four earned runs. Henkenjohann, 27, has had trouble with his control dating back to his days as a Twins farmhand earlier in the decade, when he walked 50 batters in 51 2/3 innings at the low levels of the minor leagues.

Taiwan’s game against Spain ended after seven innings, as Taiwan piled on with a 13-3 victory. International baseball games end after seven innings when one team is ahead by at least 10 runs.

The qualifier is a round-robin tournament in which the top three teams will advance to the 2008 Beijing Games in August. The United States, Cuba, China, Japan and the Netherlands have already qualified for the Olympics.

TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE (Taiwan local date and time)

Saturday, March 8: Canada vs. South Africa, Mexico vs. Taiwan, South Korea vs. Australia, Spain vs. Germany

Sunday, March 9: Germany vs. Taiwan, Australia vs. Canada, South Africa vs. Spain, South Korea vs. Mexico

Monday, March 10: Germany vs. South Africa, Spain vs. South Korea, Taiwan vs. Canada, Australia vs. Mexico

Wednesday, March 12: South Korea vs. Germany, Canada vs. Spain, Mexico vs. South Africa, Taiwan vs. Australia

Thursday, March 13: Australia vs. Spain, Germany vs. Mexico, Canada vs. South Korea, South Africa vs. Taiwan

Friday, March 14: Spain vs. Mexico, South Africa vs. Australia, Taiwan vs. South Korea, Canada vs. Germany