Team USA Routs Canada After Controversial Ruling, Moves Closer To Olympic Berth

Image credit: Triston Casas (Tom DiPace)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.—Team USA spent 26 minutes waiting for umpires, tournament officials, managers and video replay review officials to figure out the ruling on one of the strangest plays in the recent annals of international baseball.

Clearly, it pent up some energy during the wait.

Team USA exploded for seven runs in the eighth inning after the umpires ruled Logan Forsythe scored from first base on a controversial double by Triston Casas, and the U.S. rolled to a 10-1 victory over Canada on Friday night. Canada officially played the game under protest.

The strange series of events began when, with Forsythe on first base in the bottom of the eighth, Casas hit a long drive that got stuck on top of the right-field wall. Umpires initially ruled it a home run, but after a video review changed the ruling to a double for Casas. Rather than place Forsythe on third base, however, they granted him home plate.

Canada manager Ernie Whitt came out and argued vociferously that Forsythe should be placed on third base. After a 26-minute delay, which included tournament officials coming onto the field with a rulebook in hand and three umpires leaving the field with a tournament official and going into the bowels of the stadium, the umpires re-affirmed their ruling that Forsythe’s run would count.

The run was the first of seven scored by Team USA in the inning, turning a tight 3-1 game into a 10-1 rout.  

“In those kinds of delays you can kind of fall asleep or energy falls, but we kept the energy up and we knew we needed to get those runs in,” said outfielder Luke Williams, who hit a two-run single during the barrage. “Go take it out on the other team, you know? We had Jon Jay hyping the boys up as always. It’s always nice to have guys like that on your team.”

Team USA is now the only remaining unbeaten team in the qualifier. It can punch its ticket to the Summer Olympics with a win over Venezuela on Saturday.

Canada needs to beat the Dominican Republic on Saturday to have a chance at reaching the Final Qualifier in Mexico, where it would have one more chance at claiming an Olympic berth. If Canada loses to the D.R., it will be eliminated from Olympic contention.

While Canada never led against Team USA, it was in the game until the controversial call in the eighth.

Whitt said the explanation he received from umpires was that Forsythe would have scored on the play. A key point of contention was that with the ball stuck on top of the wall, Canada right fielder Jesse Hodges jumped up to grab it and threw it back into the infield. When the ball reached the infield, Forsythe was standing on third base.  

“We asked for a video replay on it and they confirmed that it was not (out of the ballpark),” Whitt said. “So that means … they kill the ball as a double. And so that’s two bases. They said that the third base guy would have scored and I said it can’t score. If you rule it a double, that’s two bases. And that was the whole gist of everything. And if you go to the replay, the guy that was on first base was standing on third base at the time when the ball came back into the infield. So again, you can’t make a ruling that goes one way and then change it to go another way, in my opinion.”

The ruling deflated Canada and swung the momentum toward Team USA. Reliever Travis Seabrooke entered and immediately hit Mark Kolozsvary with a pitch. Seabrooke induced a chopper back to the mound from Nick Allen with two outs to get out of the inning, but first baseman JD Osborne dropped the throw for a critical error that allowed another run to score and kept the inning going. Williams followed with his two-run single to make it 7-1, Jarren Duran hit a triple off the top of the wall in left field to make it 8-1 and Todd Frazier finished the flurry with a long two-run homer to left.

Canada went down meekly in the top of the ninth, failing to get the ball out of the infield after making hard contact all game.

“I mean they had that little rally after the delay there,” Canada outfielder Jacob Robson said. “It was a bit deflating.”

A tournament official met with the umpires after the game was over. Because the umpires leave through the same exit as Team Canada and had to walk beside them to the exit, two security officers escorted the umpiring crew off the field.

The game had been close up to that point. Eric Filia’s two-out single gave Team USA an early 1-0 lead, but Robson led off the fourth inning with a homer off USA starter Homer Bailey to tie it.

Williams gave Team USA the lead back with a leadoff homer in the fifth and Eddy Alvarez extended the lead with a two-out RBI triple down the right-field line that made it 3-1.

It could have been even closer at that point if not for strong defense from Team USA.

Bailey gave up lots of hard contact over his 3.1 innings but was able to escape with only one run allowed. Williams made a leaping catch in left field on a ball that was tattooed by Michael Crouse to prevent a leadoff double in the second inning. Allen continued his week of nifty glovework in the third when he pick up a hard-hit ball on a short hop and started a double play that erased a leadoff single.

Bailey’s night ended when he served up a home run to Robson to lead off the fourth, followed by a hard-hit liner by Jason Wood snagged by right fielder Eric Filia.

“Canada had some guys who really hit the ball hard,” Team USA manager Mike Scioscia said. “They were out-hitting us for a while. We broke it open in the eighth but for the most part, that game could hinge on number of pitches at any time up until that eighth inning. Fortunately it went our way.”

Williams went 2-for-4 with a homer, three RBIs and his leaping catch in left field for Team USA. Duran went 3-for-5 with a double, a triple, two runs scored and an RBI and Kolozsvary went 2-for-2 with a double, two runs scored and was twice hit by a pitch.

Drew Parrish, D.J. Johnson, Anthony Gose and Jimmie Sherfy combined to throw 5.2 innings of scoreless relief with four hits allowed, one walk and seven strikeouts for Team USA. Overall Team USA’s relievers have allowed only three runs in 14 innings of work in the qualifier.

Matthew Liberatore will start Team USA’s finale against Venezuela on Saturday. He pitched five innings with one run allowed in the team’s opening win against Nicaragua.

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