Pitcher Shawn Hill made it look easy for Team Canada as it took an 11-1 victory over Great Britain in the first game of the World Baseball Classic qualifier at Armin-Wolf Arena in Regensburg, Germany on Thursday.
The Mississauga native struck out seven and allowed just one run on three hits through five and 2/3 innings.
The bats took care of the rest.
It was all Canada from the start as the team took an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.
Chris Robinson, who reached third base on a questionable safe call from Italian umpire Marco Screti, came in to score on a pitch that got away from British catcher Chris Berset.
Vancouver-born Jimmy Van Ostrand then plated Toronto’s Tim Smith from third base on a RBI ground out.
In the bottom of the third, Vancouver native Tyson Gillies bunted his way to first then promptly stole second on a pitch in the dirt.
Hurler Chris Reed, a first round draft pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers last year, reached his pitch count that inning and was replaced by California-born Kyle Wilson who struck out Van Ostrand to end the threat.
Canada again came close to expanding its lead in the bottom of the fourth, loading the bases with two out, but Britain’s Michael Roth, a pitcher in the Los Angeles Angels’ organization, took care of things by striking out Gillies to disband the rally.
Where the Canadians fell short in the fourth, they capitalized in the fifth. After a lead-off single by Robinson, Adam Loewen slapped a RBI double down the first base line to score his teammate and increase Canada’s lead to 3-0.
And it didn’t stop there.
In the bottom of the seventh, Gillies, who led off with a double and took third on a wild pitch from Roth, scored on a soft single from Robinson’s bat. With one out, Van Ostrand blew the game wide open on a two-run home run, making it 6-1 for Canada.
Adam Loewen kept the Canadian rally going on a one-out single off British pitcher Greg Hendrix, who left the game after walking New Westminster, B.C.’s Shawn Bowman to load the bases.
With Canadian-born Paul Waterman in to pitch for Great Britain, Bow Island, Alta.’s Skyler Stromsmoe hit a bases-clearing triple to make it 9-1 for Canada.
Gillies, in his second appearance of the inning, doubled to score two more, putting the mercy rule on Britain and taking the game, 11-1 in seven.
Hill’s only mistake came in the top of the sixth when Great Britain’s shortstop, Albert Cartwright, jumped on a pitch and sent it sailing over the left-field wall, putting his country on the board, 3-1, for the first time in the game.
After meeting his pitch count by striking out the next batter, Hill was taken out of the game and replaced by Trail, B.C.’s Chris Kissock, who retired the final out of the inning.
Though the British bats threatened in the top of the seventh when Sam Wiley ripped a one-out single down the first base line, Kissock crushed their hope of narrowing Canada’s lead by forcing Britain’s Canadian-born Chris Falls to ground into an inning-ending double play, paving the way for Canada’s game-ending, eight-run attack in the bottom of the inning.
Canada, the favourites to advance to the 2013 WBC out of this four-team group, will face the winner of Friday’s Czech Republic-Germany match-up on Saturday.