AUCKLAND NZ -- Canada was dealt a setback Friday in its opening playoff game at the International Softball Federation’s Men’s World Championship in Auckland, New Zealand. Canada, first in Pool B after round robin play, was upset 3-1 by Team Venezuela, second in Pool A.
The loss puts Canada on a tougher road in its hunt for World gold, starting with an elimination game today at 9 p.m. (AST) against Argentina.
Other play-off games on Friday in New Zealand saw Argentina eliminate the United States 9-2, Japan eliminate Samoa 4-2 and host New Zealand get by Pool A champions and defending world champions Australia 5-4 in 10 innings. Japan, Argentina and New Zealand are all from Pool B.
The winner of the Canada-Australia game will play the winner of the Japan-Australia game at 1:30 a.m. Saturday (AST). New Zealand and Venezuela, who are both guaranteed berths in the medal round will face each other at midnight (AST).
Newfoundlanders Brad Ezekiel (Harbour Main) and Stephen Mullaley (Freshwater) accounted for Canada’s only hits against Venezuela, and they bot came in the bottom of the fourth. Ezekiel led off the inning with a single. Then, after one out, Mullaley’s triple to right-center field brought in Canada’s only run.
Islander Jeff Ellsworth was held off the sheet in three at-bats.
Venezuela, who was held to four hits by the pitching staff of Sean Cleary (Harbour Main), Paul Koert Brooklin, Ont.) and Don Scott (Stratford, Ont.), led 1-0 after one and added three more runs in the fourth. Canada’s pitchers recorded 13 strikeouts while the Venezuelan throws struck out eight.