It was the Jimmy Van Ostrand show at the World Baseball Classic qualifiers on Saturday as the Washington Nationals product drove in five runs and paced Canada to a 16-7 victory over the host Germans.
The win means that Ernie Whitt’s team will play in Monday’s final with a chance to move on to the WBC tournament in March should they defeat the winner of Sunday’s Germany-Great Britain semi-final.
James Avery, a Detroit farmhand, went only 2.2 innings for Canada, giving up four earned runs on five hits and two walks.
The Germans replied with a Tigers’ prospect of their own in Alex Burgos, a Regensburg-native, who similarly struggled, giving up four runs on two homers, and two walks.
Van Ostrand got started early when he blasted a three-run shot over the left-field fence in the first inning off of Burgos for his second homer of the tournament.
Yet the Germans quickly made it clear that it would not be a walkover, getting to Avery with two RBI singles from right fielder Eric Suttle and shortstop Matthew Vance to even the game in the second.
Burgos was taken deep to left by Van Ostrand again in the third to put Canada back ahead, but left fielder Jake Shaffer’s fielder’s choice in the bottom of the same inning scored German first baseman Donald Lutz to tie the match again.
Three innings of scoreless baseball perpetuated by dominant bullpen work by both sides stalled the proceedings until the seventh when Vancouver-native Tyson Gillies golfed a solo homerun, Canada’s third round-tripper of the day.
Braves minor leaguer Tim Smith doubled the Canadian lead two batters later when his triple off of Justin Kuehn drove in DH Brock Kjedgaard, and then Van Ostrand picked up his fifth RBI of the game when his single scored Smith to give the visitors a 7-4 lead.
Shawn Bowman made it six consecutive hits when his line-drive single off of MLB veteran Will Ohman scored Van Ostrand, and then catcher Chris Robinson made it seven with another base-hit, bringing in Adam Loewen to stretch the lead to five.
Canada has now scored 13 seventh-inning runs in the two games they have played in this tournament as they put up eight against Great Britain in their 11-1 victory on Thursday.
But yet again, the hosts did not give up.
German designated hitter Simon Guhring scored on Aaron Altherr’s double in the bottom of the seventh, and then Altherr was brought in on Kai Gronauer’s lined single into centre off of former Phillies and Brewers hurler R.J. Swindle.
The Canadians counter-punched again in the top of the eighth when pinch hitter Jordan Lennerton, another Tigers product, hit Canada’s fourth long ball of the game with a solo shot to right.
Adam Loewen got his fourth hit of the game three batters later, scoring Tim Smith and putting Canada up by five runs again and finally putting the Germans away.
Rene Tosoni’s grand slam capped off another five-run inning in the ninth as the scoreboard betrayed what was a tight game until late.
The Germans added a consolation run in the bottom of the inning.
Notes: Canada has scored 20 of their 27 runs in the tournament in the seventh inning or later … Spruce Grove, Alberta-native Sheldon McDonald (1-0) picked up the win while giving up a run on two hits in 1.1 innings … Luke Sommer (0-1) got the loss while giving up one run on three hits and striking out four in 3.1 innings … Canadian catcher Cole Armstrong tore his left achilles in the third inning rounding first on a fly out