WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Using yet another shutdown pitching effort and a seven-run, eighth-inning rally, the USA Baseball Professional National Team moved to within one victory of securing a berth in the Tokyo Olympic Games with a 10-1 victory over Canada Friday evening at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
With the victory, the U.S. remained perfect in the 2021 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Baseball Americas Qualification Event. As the tournament’s lone 2-0 team in the decisive Super Round, Team USA can qualify for one of the two remaining spots in the Tokyo Olympics with a victory over Venezuela in its AOQ finale Saturday evening at Clover Park.
Luke Williams belted the go-ahead home run in the fifth inning, then doubled home two more U.S. runs as part of Team USA’s back-breaking seven-run explosion in the eighth that turned a two-run lead into a 10-1 bulge for the stars and stripes.
The U.S. gained control of Friday’s game behind another stellar performance from its pitching staff, which limited Canada to a single run on Jacob Robson’s fourth-inning homer. Homer Bailey allowed just one run in 3 1/3 innings to start the game before four U.S. relievers teamed up to blank the Canadians on four hits over the final 5.2 frames.
Team USA drew first blood on Eric Filia’s RBI-single in the third inning, moments after Jarren Duran delivered his second hit of the game to spark a two-out rally.
Robson responded immediately for Team Canada, driving a full-count offering over the wall in left-center to pull his club even. Drew Parrish (1-0) retired the first five hitters he faced after taking over for Bailey with one out in the fourth. The lefty fanned a pair and kept Canada hitless until Wes Darvill and Robson delivered back-to-back one-out singles.
D.J. Johnson promptly extinguished that threat with a pair of strikeouts and retired five of the six hitters he faced over his 1.2 innings. Anthony Gose worked the eighth with similar results for the U.S. bullpen. The left-hander allowed a two-out walk but followed with an inning-ending punchout of Eric Wood.
The U.S. started its eighth-inning outburst with Logan Forsythe working a one-out walk before Triston Casas drilled a shot that appeared to clear the wall in right for an apparent two-run homer.
But upon review, the ball was ruled to glance off the top of the wall for a double that set off a lengthy delay after Canadian manager Ernie Whitt protested the call. Forsythe was ultimately awarded home plate with the fourth Team USA run, setting off an offensive surge that saw five of the next six U.S. batters reach base.
Mark Kolozsvary drew a free base after being hit by a pitch for the third time on the night before a Canadian error kept the inning alive. Williams stretched the lead to six runs with a liner to right, and Duran added a run-scoring triple–his third hit of the contest. Todd Frazier capped the scoring with a two-run blast into the U.S. bullpen in left for a 10-1 Team USA lead.
Jimmie Sherfy closed out the contest with a scoreless ninth, as the five U.S. hurlers combined to strike out 10 batters while scattering eight hits and issuing just one walk.
Duran led Team USA with a 3-for-5 night at the dish, and Williams finished 2-for-5 with three RBIs. Kolozsvary was a force for the U.S. as well, reaching safely in each of his four trips to the plate and scoring a pair of runs.
Stay tuned to USABaseball.com for all of the latest news, previews, and recaps from the WBSC AOQ.
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