Canada Thumps Great Britain in WBC Slugfest, Setting Runs Record

Freddie Freeman scores in the Canada Great Britain game from Pool C of the World Baseball Classic.
(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

Canada 18, Great Britain 8 (7, Mercy Rule)

PHOENIX, Mar. 12 — A 4-for-4 game by Tyler O’Neill, who also walked twice and scored four runs, led the way for Team Canada to blitz Team Great Britain, 18–8, in Pool C of the World Baseball Classic on Sunday afternoon. Jacob Robson also went 4-for-4 for Canada with a walk and three runs scored in the rout. The 26 combined runs by the teams set a new WBC record.

Great Britain started strong in the top of the first. A leadoff walk by right fielder Chavez Young got the ball rolling. After he stole second, a grounder to second by center fielder Trayce Thompson moved Young to third. After a Matt Koperniak walk and Harry Ford strikeout put runners on the corners, first baseman Nick Ward dug in. Koperniak broke for second on a double steal attempt. On the throw, Young bolted for home. The throw to second was in the dirt, causing a bobble, and everyone was safe. Ward ultimately singled, scoring Koperniak to make the score 2–0. Two batters later, a single to center by shortstop Darnell Sweeney made the score 3–0.

Canada Takes Lead, Great Britain Inches Closer

Canada responded in the bottom of the first in resounding fashion off right-hander Akeel Morris. Second baseman Edouard Julien sent the first pitch into the right-field seats, cutting the deficit to 3–1. A walk by first baseman Freddie Freeman and single to left by center fielder Tyler O’Neill, followed by a strikeout by designated hitter Jared Young, brought up shortstop Otto Lopez with one out. His single to left loaded the bases for third baseman Abraham Toro. He hit a grounder to first, where Ward stepped on the bag for the second out and fired home. The throw was low and wide, allowing both Freeman and O’Neill to score. A walk by catcher Bo Naylor and single to right by right fielder Owen Caissie scored Lopez to give Canada a 4–3 lead.

With runners now on the corners and two out, Great Britain manager Drew Spencer brought in Cam Opp to relieve Morris. An infield single by left fielder Jacob Robson plated Naylor, making the score 5–3 as Julien came to bat for the second time in the inning. He walked, loading the bases again, but a grounder to second by Freeman ended the inning with no further scoring.

Team Great Britain narrowed the gap to 5–4 in the top of the second. Once again, Young led off with a walk and stole second. He scored when Thompson followed with a single to center. In the bottom half, O’Neill and Young led off the frame with consecutive walks. Lopez grounded into a 6–3 double play, advancing O’Neill to third. Toro brought O’Neill in with a double to left, making the score 6–4.

More Seesaw Action

Great Britain made the score 6–5 in the top of the third on a pair of doubles, first by B.J. Murray and second by pinch-hitter D’Shawn Knowles. Canada got the run right back on a leadoff homer in the bottom of the third by Caissie. Robson bunted his way on, and stole second before Julien walked. A single to center by Freeman loaded the bases for O’Neill, who cleared them with a three-run double. This made the score 10–5.

Great Britain fought back once again in the top of the fourth. After Young singled, Thompson walked. Two batters later, catcher Harry Ford smashed a home run to left-center, making the score 10–8. In the bottom half, Canada led off with a grounder to third. The next eight batters all reached — double by Robson; walk by Julien; RBI single to right by Freeman that scored Robson and advanced Julien to third; RBI single to right by O’Neill, scoring Julien; walk by Young; infield single by Lopez to load the bases; bases-loaded walks by Toro and Naylor. When the dust settled, Canada held a 16–8 lead.

Mercy Rule Kicks In

Canada made it a 17–8 game in the bottom of the fifth thanks to a one-out single by O’Neill, two wild pitches, a walk, and a fielder’s choice force play. It became an 18–8 game in the bottom of the sixth after a leadoff single by Robson. A walk, a fielder’s choice force at second, another walk, and a fielder’s choice grounder — with the relay for a double play thrown wide of first — brought in the final run. With the mercy rule — 10-run lead after seven defensive innings — in effect, all Canada needed to do to end the game was pitch a scoreless seventh. Matt Brash rose to the challenge, striking out the side in 1–2–3 fashion to slam the door.

Postgame Reflections

“Wow. I don’t know how to describe it. I really don’t,” said a stunned Team Canada manager Ernie Whitt after the game. “There was a lot of offense out there. A little bit of sloppiness on their side. We hit the ball extremely well — extremely well — which was nice to see.”

A big loss that uses seven pitchers can often wreak havoc on a pitching staff. Great Britain manager Drew Spencer, however, said the team is “still on track” for what they wanted to get done. “With the way the rest requirements work and the way we utilized people yesterday,” he said, “we’ll be fine.”

Team Canada used six pitchers, due to pitch count limits, but Whitt said, “I think we’ve only lost probably two of them. I believe Rutter is probably down for a day. And Cal (Quantrill) is probably down until the quarterfinal. Other than that, I think all the pitchers are within their limits that they could come back and pitch. But to be honest with you, I doubt if they will until the following day. I try not to do that in this tournament and this early in spring, try to give them a day off from the days that they pitch.”

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Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan is the owner and sole contributor of Thompson Talks, a website discussing the Big Four North American Pro Sports as well as soccer. He also is a credentialed member of the Colorado Rockies press corps. His first and biggest love is baseball.

Evan lives in Gilbert, Arizona and loves history, especially of sports. He is the treasurer for the Hemond Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and also is a USSF and AIA soccer referee. He released his first book, Volume I of A Complete History of the Major League Baseball Playoffs, in October of 2021.

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