Canadians crush Germans in World Baseball Classic Final

Germany's big hitter Max Kepler-Rozycki failed to fire in the final. Photo Walter Keller.In a display of power hitting and strong pitching, Canada comfortably defeated Germany 11-1 Monday night in the World Baseball Classic Qualifier tournament in Regensburg to earn a berth in the 2013 World Baseball Classic in the US next March.

It was the second victory by Canada over Germany in the tournament after an earlier 16-7 win, with both victories clearly illustrating the gap which German baseball still must close in order to reach the upper levels of world baseball.

Germany underscored that it is one of the better European baseball teams in its two lopsided victories - both by scores of 16-1 - over the Czechs and Great Britain. But against the Canadians, a team loaded with Triple-A and Double-A minor league players, Germany was clearly overmatched.

Canada quickly took control of the game, going up 4-0 in the first inning, paced by a two-run home run by Chris Robinson. German hurler Andre Hughes of the Solingen Alligators had control problems in walking three batters, two of whom came in to score, one of them an unearned run on a fielding error by first baseman Donald Lutz.

After getting two quick outs in the second inning, Hughes ran into trouble after giving up back-to-back doubles to Tim Smith and Jimmie van Ostrand, giving up a further run for a 5-0 deficit. German coach Greg Frady had seen enough, yanking Hughes and bringing in Eugen Heilmann, another Bundesliga pitcher, from the Paderborn Untouchables. Canada was unimpressed, with Adam Loewen greeting Heilmann's first pitch by hammering it over the left field wall for a two-run home run and a 7-0 lead.

A few batters later, with Heilmann in trouble, Frady changed pitchers again, bringing in Luke Sommer, a lefthander who plays in The Netherlands' semi-professional Honkbal league. After holding Canada scoreless in the third inning, Sommer gave up a solo home run to van Ostrand for an 8-0 lead for the North Americans.

German batters meanwhile were being silenced by Canadian pitcher Andrew Albers, 26. A pitcher without overpowering speed, Albers mixed up his pitches - offspeed curves, sinkers and the occasional fastball in the upper 80 mph range - to set down the first nine German batters of the game. Eric Suttle, leading off the fourth inning, then got Germany's first hit, a little squib shot that Albers could not handle. But Suttle was left stranded at first as Albers retired the next three batters.

Germany finally got on the board in the fifth inning, when Aaron Altherr - one of the US nationals who qualified for German nationality under WBC rules - hit a line drive over the center field fence in the deepest part of the ballpark.

For the next three innings the Canadian batters were kept quiet by Sommer and then by former Major League pitcher Will Ohmann, while Canada's pitchers did the same against the German team. Then in the eighth inning, Canada scored three times, with two runs driven in on a double by Bowman. With the 11-1 lead, the game was stopped there under the ten-run rule.

The final game capped a five-day tournament which originally also included Great Britain and the Czech Republic. Both those nations ultimately were sent home under the so-called "double elimination" tournament modus, setting up Monday's showdown between the pre-tournament favourites Canada and Germany. All the pressure was on Canada, however, given its roster loaded with Triple-A and Double-A minor league players. Canada was forced to go through the qualification because it had failed to gain a single victory in the 2009 tournament.

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