As part of Baseball Canada’s year in review, we are counting down the Top 12 Stories of 2012. Many great stories have occurred over the course of the year and today we take a look at #1.
After failing to win a game at the 2009 World Baseball Classic, Canada found itself in the unenviable position of having to qualify for the 2013 event against the likes of Czech Republic, Great Britain and host Germany.
Not only did they win the event, to book their ticket to the 2013 World Baseball Classic, they did so in dominant fashion winning all three of their games and outscoring opponents 38-9 in the process.
“We came here knowing that we had to win three games and we accomplished our goal,” said Canadian Manager Ernie Whitt after an 11-1 win over Germany in the title game. “I can’t say enough about this team-they’re gamers, they’re guys that play hard with pride and passion.
“It makes my job easy as a Manager and we’re just happy that we’re moving on.”
Canada brought a veteran club to Regensburg, Germany, where the event took place, as the team was very business-like in two wins over Germany and one victory over Great Britain.
Offensively, Canada had many great performers, but none more so than long-time National Teamer Jimmy Van Ostrand (Richmond, BC) who clubbed a tournament high four home runs in three games.
Van Ostrand is a member of a strong leadership core that has been representing Canada in international events for the past 5 years. He was quick to credit the core of the team as being a major factor for recent international success.
“I think I’ve had some experiences [with Team Canada] that let me act in a bit of a leadership role, but this is a very unique team,” he said. “It’s definitely a leadership by committee, with a lot of players that contribute in one capacity or another. Everybody is committed to winning games as a team.”
In the tournament opener against Great Britain, Canada received a solid start on the mound from right-hander Shawn Hill (Georgetown, ON) who went 5 2/3 innings and struck out seven, while only giving up one run in an 11-1 win.
Van Ostrand belted a two-run homer in the seventh to finish the game with three RBI, while Skyler Stromsmoe (Bow Island, AB) had a double and three RBI and Tyson Gillies (Vancouver, BC) went 3-for-5 with 2 RBI.
Game two saw Canada face a German club that gave the Canadians all they could handle early in front of their hometown fans.
With the score deadlocked a four through six innings, Canada broke the game open late en route to a 16-7 win.
The Canadian attack was one again led by Van Ostrand who slugged two home runs as part of his teams 21 hit outburst. Tyson Gillies, Jordan Lennerton and Rene Tosoni also went deep in the win.
Germany had a second crack at Canada in the championship contest with a spot in the 2013 WBC on the line, but Canada gave the Germans little hope jumping out to an early lead and never looked back in an 11-1 win.
Chris Robinson (Dorchester, ON) smacked a two-run homer in the top of the first inning and 2011 Pan Am Games hero Andrew Albers (North Battleford, SK) provided his team with six innings of two-hit ball to pick up the win.
Canada will now head to the 2013 World Baseball Classic in Phoenix in March where they will be in a first round pool with Italy, Mexico and the United States.
The 2012 baseball season provided Baseball Canada with many great moments and long lasting memories. Here’s hoping for an even better 2013.
Season’s Greetings to all and see you on the field in 2013!
Top 12 Stories of 2012
12. Les Smeyers becomes 20,000th coach
11. Baseball Canada adopts Challenger Baseball
10. Eight umpires at International Events
9. 23 Canadians in MLB in 2012
8. Ontario repeats as Baseball Canada Cup champs
7. Baseball Canada named COPABE Federation of the Year for 2011
6. Women’s National Team wins World Cup bronze
5. 2011 Senior Team inducted into Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame
4. Bob Elliott given Baseball Hall of Fame’s JG Taylor Spink Award
3. Junior National Team wins silver at IBAF 18U World Championship
2. Baseball Canada and Toronto Blue Jays partner on sponsorship package
1. Canada qualifies for 2013 World Baseball Classic