Sincelejo, Colombia – The Canadian U18 Men’s National Team ended the preliminary round on a high note on Friday, handing the United States its first loss of the tournament in a 7-6 extra inning win at the 2023 WBSC Americas Pan American Championship.
Canada’s offence was clicking from the very beginning of the game, with Owen Bilinsky (Port Dover, Ont.) leading off with a solid single to left, advancing to second and third on a pair of wild pitches and scoring on a sacrifice fly to center by Nolan Bultena (Arthur, Ont.) to give Canada an early 1-0 lead. Canada loaded the bases with three singles with one out in the top half of the second but could not extend its lead as the next batter flew out to shallow right with the runner on third getting thrown out at the plat on a close play.
Bilinsky led off the third with another single, advanced to third on a single by Bultena and crossed the plate on a single to right by Danny Scott (Stratford, Ont.). Team Canada increased its lead to 3-0 the following inning when Joe Weiler (Hepworth, Ont.) led off with an infield single, advanced to second on a passed ball and to third on a wild pitch before scoring on a single to center by Bilinsky.
Meanwhile, Sharl Leclerc (Sainte-Claire, Que.) got the ball in the pitcher’s circle for Canada and held Team USA scoreless through four innings, scattering five hits and striking out five.
Canada added two runs to its lead in the top half of the fifth to take a commanding 5-0 lead. Adrian Green (Carbonear, N.L.) drew a two-out walk followed by a single by Brad Barker (Goodwood Ont.) with both runners advancing on a wild pitch before Weiler delivered a two-run single to left. The United States responded in the bottom of the frame with a two-out double followed by a single to cut the lead to 5-1.
The score remained that way until the bottom of the seventh, when Team USA came roaring back. After a strikeout for the first out, the Americans put two runners on with a pair of singles off reliever Nic Neid (Terrace B.C.) who came in to start the fifth. After a ground out for the second out, the next batter walked to load the bases followed by a triple to push three runs across and make the score 5-4, followed by a double to tie the game and send it to an extra inning.
In the top of the eighth, Weiler started on second for the international tiebreaker rule and moved up to third on a passed ball. A one-out walk and a passed ball put runners on second and third before Cam Weatherbee (Brookfield, N.S.) delivered a key two-run single up the middle for a 7-5 lead. In the bottom of the frame, the United States were able to score their runner from second on a throwing error, but Barker got the first out with a strikeout, another on a sacrifice bunt and induced a fly out to left to end the game.
Bilinsky and Weiler led Canada offensively with three hits each, with Barker adding two singles and Weatherbee, Bultena, Scott and Blake Brubacher (Newton Ont.) each contributing a single. Despite the victory, Team Canada (3-2) finished fourth place in the preliminary round and will face Argentina (3-2) in the bronze medal game at 2:00pm COT (3:00pm EDT). The gold medal game will feature USA (4-1) against Venezuela (4-1) at 5:00pm COT. All games will be live streamed here.