Canada guaranteed to play for medal after beating Japan at U18 baseball World Cup

THUNDER BAY, Ont. — Canada is guaranteed to play for a medal at the under-18 baseball World Cup.

The Canadian squad rallied for three runs in the seventh inning on Friday to beat Japan, 6-4 in the Super Round — securing a spot in the bronze-medal game.

Reliever Harley Gollert of Toronto pitched three scoreless innings to record the save.

“It feels awesome,” said Gollert. “The atmosphere was amazing and I really fed off the energy of the crowd.”

In the seventh, Archer Brookman of Pointe-Claire, Que., singled to left, allowing Noah Naylor of Mississauga, Ont., to score on a slide at home, avoiding the tag from the Japanese catcher on a throw from left that clearly beat him to the plate.

From there, Victoria’s Jason Willow reached on a dropped third strike before Brookman scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch. Winnipeg’s Victor Cerny cashed in Willow from second and put Canada in front by two.

“Obviously that inning was huge for us,” said Canadian manager Greg Hamilton. “We have a tremendous amount of respect for Japan and were fortunate to take advantage when they made some mistakes.”

Canada received a solid effort on the mound from starter Ben Abram of Georgetown, Ont., going 4 2/3 innings before being relieved by Griffin Hassall of Newmarket, Ont.

“We needed some innings from Ben tonight and he delivered,” said Hamilton. “With games remaining it was important to get some length out of our starter which will help our (pitching) staff with two games remaining.”

Canada, which has one more Super Round game against Cuba on Saturday, will face either Korea or Japan for bronze on Sunday.

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