Canada wins tourney, qualifies for 2013 World Baseball Classic

Team Canada manager Ernie Whitt (centre) and his players and staff sing O Canada on the field in...

Team Canada manager Ernie Whitt (centre) and his players and staff sing O Canada on the field in Regensburg, Germany, after defeating Germany 11-1 on Monday to clinch a spot for Canada in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. (BASEBALL CANADA PHOTO)

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:21 PM ET

"Can you do us a favour?" said the one imaginary roster to the other.

"Sure," answered the World Baseball Classic qualifying roster.

"Get us into next spring's tournament," asked the 2013 WBC roster. "One problem -- we're not sure how many of you guys can come with us."

"No problem," said the WBC qualifying roster in the typical Canadian whatever-is-best-for-baseball-in-the-country way.

And it wasn't any problem, as favoured Team Canada thumped Germany 11-1 Monday before 2,720 fans at Armin-Wolf Baseball Arena in Regensburg, Germany. With the victory, Canada won the pool, qualifying for next March's event.

Jimmy Van Ostrand of Richmond, B.C., Chris Robinson of Dorchester, Ont., and Adam Loewen of Surrey, B.C., all homered. North Battleford, Sask., lefty Andrew Albers worked six innings for the win.

Imaginary rosters don't have imaginary conversations between each other, but those were the facts.

Major leaguers wanted to play in the third WBC, wear the Maple Leaf and make up for the embarrassing loss to Italy at the Rogers Centre in 2009, but to get there they needed help from a minor-league roster, 14 of whom won gold at the Pan Am Games in 2011.

A total of 21 Canucks appeared in the majors this season. The actual WBC roster consists of 28 players. Now manager Ernie Whitt and director of national teams Greg Hamilton will begin work on constructing the roster for next March.

"One thing that's unique about Canada is the pride we take in our country and Baseball Canada," Van Ostrand said. "A lot of us realized we might not be a part of the March roster, but we knew how important it was for us to give the big guys, the best guys from our country, a chance to be on the field when the time comes.

"It is how it is when you're from a smaller underdog country in baseball when you meet another Canadian, you have a bond that might not be shared by players from other countries whether you come across a Canadian in the minors or in winter ball."

Milwaukee Brewers closer John Axford of Port Dover, Ont. tweeted Monday morn:

"Good luck to the boys with @baseballcanada fighting for our place in the WBC today. May the great spirit of William Shatner be with you!"

Brewers reliever Jim Henderson from Calgary added "Good luck to @baseballcanada today. Throwing up the "C" high fives today!"

First baseman Van Ostrand will be there, likely as a bench player behind first baseman Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds and DH Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins.

Despite knocking in the game-winner in October as Canada beat Team USA for Pam-Am gold, Van Ostrand couldn't keep a job in the Washington Nationals system. He opened 2012 playing for the Sugar Land Skeeters in the independent Atlantic League before the Nationals re-signed him to play at double-A Harrisburg.

During three games in Germany, he hit .538 (7-for-13) with a double, four homers and 10 RBIs, finishing with a 2.138 OPS.

Asked if he wished the tourney had gone on a little longer and Canada could have played some more games, Van Ostrand said no.

"It was good to get going for a few games, these three games were huge games for Baseball Canada," he said. "Three games were enough. We got the job done."

Canada scored four runs in the first inning as German lefty Andre Hughes was overmatched walking Tyson Gillies of Langley, B.C., allowing a two-run homer to Robinson, then walks to Toronto's Tim Smith and Van Ostrand. A grounder and an error put the Canucks up 4-0. Smith and Van Ostrand doubled in the second and Loewen went deep to left for a two-run homer.

While in another pool, undefeated Israel (2-0) lost the winner-take-all final 9-7 to Spain in Jupiter, Fla., Canada remained undefeated, outscoring opposing teams 38-9 in the three games.

Leadoff man Gillies hit .500 (7-for-14) with five runs scored and three RBIs, as did Loewen (7-for-14) with a homer and five RBIs.

Robinson was next, hitting .455 (5-for-11) with a homer and four RBIs.

After retiring the first nine Germans in order, Albers allowed an infield single to Eric Suttle leading off the fourth. Aaron Altherr led off the fifth with a solo homer, to centre cutting Canada's lead to 8-1.


POTENTIAL TEAM CANADA WBC ROSTER

(Statistics through Sunday)

STARTING PITCHERS

Ryan Dempster, Gibsons, B.C. Rangers/Cubs (12-7, 3.07 ERA)

Scott Diamond, Guelph, Twins (12-8, 3.64)

Erik Bedard, Navan, Ont., Pirates (7-14, 5.01)

Jeff Francis, North Delta, B.C., Rockies (5-6, 5.54)

RELIEF PITCHERS

John Axford, Port Dover, Brewers (5-7, 4.66, 33 saves)

James Henderson, Calgary, Brewers (0-2, 3.24, 3 saves)

Jesse Crain, Toronto, White Sox (2-3, 2.70)

Phillippe Aumont, Gatineau, Que., Phillies (0-1, 4.35, 1 save)

Chris Leroux, Mississauga, Pirates (0-0, 7.00)

Scott Mathieson, Aldergrove B.C. Yomiuri Giants (2-0, 1.80, 10 saves)

Dustin Molleken, Regina, Hokkaido-Nippon Ham Fighters (1-1, 3.38)

James Paxton, Ladner, B.C. Mariners-AA (9-4, 3.05)

Kyle Lotzkar, Tsawwassen, B.C. Reds-AA (4-6, 5.21)

Jameson Taillon, The Woodlands, Tex. Pirates-AA (3-0, 1.59)

Trystan Magunson Vancouver, Jays-AA (0-1, 1.95, 5 saves)

STARTING LINEUP

1. 3B Brett Lawrie, Langley, Jays (.274, 9, 44)

2. C Russell Martin, Montreal, Yankees (.205, 18, 48)

3. 1B Joey Votto, Etobicoke, Reds (.338, 14, 43)

4. DH Justin Morneau, New Westminster, B.C., Twins (.276, 19, 77)

5. LF Jason Bay, Trail, B.C., Mets (.155, 8, 20).

6. RF Michael Saunders, Victoria, Mariners (.251, 17, 51)

7. 2B Taylor Green, Comox, B.C. Brewers (.193, 3, 14)

8. SS Peter Orr, Newmarket, Phillies (.306, 0, 6)

9. CF Tyson Gillies, Langley, Phillies-AA (.304. 4, 24)

BENCH PLAYERS

C George Kottaras, Markham, A’s/Brewers (.213, 8, 30)

INF Jonathan Malo, Laval, Que., IND-Quebec (.288, 12, 63)

1B Jim Van Ostrand, Richmond, B.C. Nationals-AA (.310, 10, 30).

INF Mark Teahen, St. Marys, Ont., Nationals-AAA (.260, 3, 63).

OF Rene Tosoni, Coquitlam, B.C. Twins-AAA-AA (.224, 4, 23)

OF Adam Loewen, Surrey, B.C., Mets-AAA (.227, 8, 26)

 


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