PHOENIX – Cowbells, aerophones and committed flag wavers infused life into Chase Field on Tuesday afternoon. But it was the exuberant talent of a youthful Group Canada that spurred a five- victory more than Colombia, leaving the club a single victory away from advancing out of pool play for the 1st time in 5 tries at the Classic.
“Coming into the tournament, we type of knew we had to win 3 games to assure us going forward,” manager Ernie Whitt stated just before the game. “It’s proper on the table we do that, we’re going forward.”
Canada started its 2023 Planet Baseball Classic journey by bludgeoning its way to victory, tying the then-single game record for runs (18). It has now proved that it can win on the back of its pitching as properly, as 24-year-old Noah Skirrow, pitching his 1st game with “Canada” across his chest, delivered 5 scoreless frames en route to the club’s 1st shutout in WBC history.
“They generally say, ‘Good pitching stops very good hitting,’” Whitt stated. “Colombia is a incredibly aggressive group and we have been in a position to spot up our fastballs and breaking balls and hold them exactly where they didn’t get the barrel of the bat on the ball. Kudos to our pitchers, they did their job.”
Youth has been serving the Canadians properly all through their stint in Phoenix. Eight players on the roster rank amongst MLB Pipeline’s Top rated 30 prospects for their respective organizations, by far the most of any group in the 2023 Classic.
Skirrow – who was close to creating the Phillies’ Top rated 30 list – struck out 5 and permitted just two hits and a single stroll, dialing up a pair of double plays at pivotal moments.
Bo Naylor (Guardians’ No. four prospect, No. 64 general) opened the scoring with an RBI single in the fourth, just before Owen Caissie (Cubs’ No. 13 prospect) slashed an opposite-field run-scoring knock in the eighth. The cherry on top rated came from No. 14 Blue Jays prospect Otto Lopez, who clobbered a hanging breaking ball for a 3-run homer out to left-center field in the ninth to seal the win.
“Yes, we have a young group,” Whitt stated. “But they’re having the chance to play. This is a large stage for them.”
Cal Quantrill and Mitch Bratt – Canada’s beginning pitchers the 1st two games – have been unable to escape the 1st inning in their outings. That left Skirrow, an undrafted member of the 2020 class out of Liberty who just reached Triple-A this season, in the spot of needing not only to hold Colombia off the board, but to provide length as properly.
Of the 58 pitches Skirrow threw, 20 have been either whiffs or known as strikes. His upper-80s mph slider/cutter was especially complicated to navigate, accounting for 3 of his 5 punchouts and ample aggravation from Colombia batters who have been unable to string several hits with each other, failing to push a runner into scoring position against the Cambridge, Ontario, native.
“It was largely the heater/slider that was quite very good and getting in a position to mix in the curveball to prevent the ambush heater was type of the game program, hold them off-balance,” Skirrow stated. “Pitch to my strengths rather than their weaknesses.”
“I really feel like when we created that adjustment of crowding the plate on him a tiny bit, he was throwing a lot of fastballs, cutters, sliders – all the things was breaking away,” Colombia manager Jolbert Cabrera stated. “We didn’t make the needed adjustments.”
Timely defense was in the cards for the Canadians as properly. They spun 3 double plays, as properly as recording a single of the strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out range.
Lopez, who was a element of two of these double plays, known as his ninth-inning homer the top rated offensive highlight of his profession hence far. Obtaining grown up in Montreal, the 24-year-old stated in Spanish how proud he is to play for Canada, the nation in which he was raised following getting born in the Dominican Republic.
Canada was in a position to piece with each other sufficient offense regardless of leaving 12 runners on base and losing All-Star Freddie Freeman early to a hamstring injury. Whitt didn’t anticipate possessing Freeman obtainable for the team’s Pool C finale, leaving the group with out its most established offensive weapon and additional tunneling the load on players getting into the large stage for the 1st time.
“We want them to play their game,” Whitt stated of the group. “We’re not asking them to do far more than they’re capable of carrying out – just go out and play the game.
“We go out and we play the game the proper way. Think me, we have just as considerably passion as any other nation. The greatest point for us is that we may possibly not be the favorites, but we will play like we are the favorites.”
In spite of the defeat, Colombia nonetheless has a path to the quarterfinals. They will wrap up Pool C play against Group USA (two-1) on Wednesday at ten p.m. ET on FS1, needing a victory and potentially some help from elsewhere in the group. Canada meets Mexico at three p.m. on Wednesday on FS2, a single victory away from earning a ticket to Miami.