Canada And Spain Win Opening Games In World Baseball Classic Qualifying

A recap of the two qualifying games for the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Canada defeated Great Britain and Spain downed France.

The World Baseball Classic Qualifying Tournament moved to its second day today with two scheduled games that both looked to be blowouts on paper. Unfortunately, that's what they both were as Canada thrashed Great Britain 11-1 in seven innings and Spain trounced France, 8-0.

Canada's starting pitcher, Shawn Hill, has 239 major league innings under his belt and he certainly looked like a major league pitcher today as he pitched 5.2 innings and allowed only one run, a lead-off home run in the sixth inning to shortstop Albert Cartwright (Phillies High-A Clearwater). He only allowed three total hits in his 5.2 innings and he commanded the strike zone against Great Britain, striking out seven and walking no one.

Great Britain's starting pitcher Chris Reed was a first-round pick for the Dodgers in 2011, but he struggled in his start, exiting after 51 pitches and 2.2 innings. He gave up two runs on two hits and two walk, but neither of the two runs was earned. Reed did strike out two Canadian batters.

The game stayed close through six innings, thanks in part to former Gamecock ace Michael Roth (Rookie Orem, Angels) who pitched the third through the sixth inning and only allowed one run. But the wheels came off when he started the bottom of the seventh inning. He faced four hitters in the seventh and allowed a lead-off double, a run-scoring single by former Iowa Cubs catcher Chris Robinson and after a ground out, a two-run home run by Jimmy Van Ostrand, who played for the Nationals' Double-A Harrisburg affiliate this past season. Roth then exited for Greg Hendrix and then Paul Waterman, neither of which could get a Canadian batter out. Soon, Canada had scored eight runs in the seventh inning and the game was ended with one out in the bottom of the seventh by the ten-run mercy rule.

Robinson was 2 for 3 with a walk, two runs scored and an RBI. Center fielder Tyson Gillies (Double-A Reading, Phillies) started the seventh inning with a double and ended the inning with a triple. He was 3 for 5 with two RBI and a run scored.

Canadian right fielder Adam Loewen was 2 for 4 with a double. He scored once and batted one run in.

Great Britain only had four hits and didn't walk either.

The best news from this game was the excellent crowd of 3,704 for a baseball game in Germany. Expect an even bigger crowd tomorrow when Germany takes on the Czech Republic.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ocean in Jupiter, Florida, a Spanish team mostly made up of players from the Americas cruised to victory over a mostly native French team.

Spain scored twice in the first inning, three times in the second and two more times in the third to take a 7-0 lead. Spain didn't score again until Barbaro Canizares (Oaxaca, Mexican League) hit a solo home run in the eighth inning, but seven runs were more than enough as France could not get much offense going against the Spanish. France only had five hits in the game, all singles.

Nick Schumaker (Sioux City, Independent Ball) started and got the win for Spain, He threw 6.1 innings and gave up four hits and two walks. Schumaker struck out four.

First baseman Canizares was 2 for 5 with that solo home run. He had two total RBI. Center fielder Engel Beltre (Double-A Frisco, Rangers) was a destructive force on the bases, going 3 for 5 with a triple and two stolen bases. Beltre scored twice and knocked one run home.

Second baseman Paco Figueroa was 3 for 4 and was hit by a pitch. He scored two runs and had two RBI. Shortstop Yunesky Sanchez went 2 for 5 with one run scored and one batted in.

DH Rafael Alvarez was 2 for 5 with an RBI. Third baseman Jesus Golindano went 2 for 3 with a walk and a stolen base. He scored once.

The crowd for the game in Jupiter was a bit disappointing as only 975 showed up for this match.

The qualifying rounds continue today with two games from Jupiter and one from Regensburg. Israel takes on Spain today at noon Chicago time for the right to advance to the Jupiter Qualifier championship game. The France and South Africa play at 6 pm, trying to stave off elimination.

In Germany, the home team takes on the Czech Republic at noon Chicago time as well. Judging by the enthusiasm of the crowd for the Canada/Great Britain game, I'm expecting a big and loud crowd for this match up,

All games can be watched for free at worldbaseballclassic.com.

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