A late inning surge by Team USA proved to be the difference Sunday in Phoenix as Team Canada was eliminated from the World Baseball Classic by the Americans after a 9-4 loss.
Team USA advanced to the second round of the WBC, along with Italy, in Miami from March 12-15.
Canada had built a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second thanks to a Michael Saunders (Victoria, BC) two-run homer off Team USA starter Derek Holland.
Saunders had a phenomenal tournament at the plate hitting .727 (8-for-11) with three doubles, a homer and seven RBI, and was later named Pool D MVP.
Canadian starter Jameson Taillon (The Woodlands, TX) gave Canada a solid start on the mound surrendering only two runs, which came in the top of the fourth, through four innings of work.
Taillon gave-up only four hits and a walk, while striking out three in his Team Canada debut.
Canada handed the ball over to the bullpen in the fifth with Dustin Molleken (Regina, SK) tossing two shutout frames.
In the bottom of the sixth Canada took a 3-2 lead when Adam Loewen (Surrey, BC) came up with a clutch RBI single and Phillippe Aumont (Gatineau, QC) took the ball in the top of the seventh and got a pop-out and groundout with the U.S. threatening, which put Canada only six outs away from knocking the U.S. out of the tournament.
It wasn’t meant to be, however as the U.S. came storming back in the top of the eighth with Canadian reliever Jim Henderson (Calgary, AB) on the mound.
Adam Jones put the U.S. in front for the first time when he doubled to the gap in left-centre to make it 4-3.
With the score 5-3, Canada added a run in the bottom of the eighth off a Loewen groundout with the bases loaded. On the play, Brandon Phillips dove to his left to knock the ball down and threw Loewen out at first, which prevented Saunders from scoring the tying run.
The U.S. added four insurance runs in the top of the ninth. Canada finished third in Pool D with USA and Italy taking the first second spots and Mexico finishing fourth. It was the third straight WBC in which Canada failed to make it out of the first round.
Courtenay’s Taylor Green, batting second and playing third base, went 0-for-5 Sunday and finished the tourney with a .286 average.
Canada made headlines Saturday in a 10-3 win over Mexico when a benches-clearing incident resulted in seven ejections.
Canada led 4-1 in the first and added six runs over the final four innings. Green went 3-for-5 with a walk.
Canada opened the WBC Friday with a 14-4 mercy-rule loss to Italy. Canada trailed 6-1 after five and cut the lead to 5-4 in the top of the sixth before being outscored 8-2 in the final two frames.
Green went 1-for-4. Mark Hardy of Campbell River, who had been scheduled to pitch against the U.S. on Sunday, did not see any action at the tourney.