Source: South Williamsport, Pa.
Date/Time: Day, August 19, 2011, 1:00pm ET
Following a 6-5 World Series-opening win that came in its last at-bat on a passed ball following an 81-minute rain delay, Canada Region Manager Jason Andrew said, “That’s the worst we’ve played all year.”
With no outs and runners on second and third, Middle East and Africa Region pitcher Gustavo Leon fired a pitch in the dirt, opening the door for Colby Ring to race home for the winning run.
“I saw the ball bounce in the dirt,” Ring said. “And I just thought to myself, ‘Go, go, go, go, go, go!’ And I made it home safe.”
“That rain delay probably saved us,” Andrew said. “We didn’t have much to do, so I tore them down, built them back up and got our boys ready to play.”
Despite beginning the game with two runs in the bottom of the first, Canada quickly surrendered its lead to the Middle East and Africa (MEA) Region Champions from Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, by allowing five runs in the top half of the third for a 5-2 deficit.
During that inning, MEA sent all nine batters to the plate, needing only two hits to score their runs as Canada struggled both on the mound and in the field.
Canadian starter Yi An Pan opened the third inning by walking MEA’s Jordan Hajazin. Jonathan Wilkey then sliced a ball over the head of the third baseman to put runners on first and second.
Shane Norton reached after a lazy ground ball crept through the legs of Yi Fan Pan, Canada’s shortstop, loading the bases for MEA.
Gustavo Leon, a pinch runner for Hajazin, scored on a wild pitch. Two batters later, Wilkey and Norton followed suit, scoring after Canadian catcher Connor McCreath bobbled an errant throw and accidentally hurled the ball towards the backstop.
Tanner Beachy then struck a double over the left fielder’s head, notching his team’s lone RBI for the game. Continuing their aggressive base running, Beachy reached third on a wild pitch and then proceeded to steal home, giving MEA a decisive 5-2 lead.
Then, the rain came.
“We knew we could play better than that,” said Cole Cantelo.
Cantelo led the Canadian comeback on both sides of the diamond, going 3-3 with three RBIs and pitching 1.2 innings of nearly perfect baseball en route to getting the victory.
“It was our first game here at the World Series,” said left fielder Ian Burns, “so I was pretty nervous.”
Despite the nerves, Canada notched two runs in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game at 5-5. Riley Ens drove in the game-tying run with a hard-hit ground ball up the middle, inches from the glove of MEA’s Julian Kinney.
MEA Manager Neil Wilkey pointed to the loss of shortstop Bradlee Sumner as the turning point in the game. On the final play prior to the rain delay, Canada’s Cantelon ripped a ground ball that took a tricky, dangerous hop before striking Sumner in the face. He did not return.
“I thought it would come down to defense,” Wilkey said. “And, well, when we lost our best defensive player — it was hard to come back after that.”