CANADA SLUGS ITS WAY TO GOLD IN WORLD SOFTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP

Written by Bob on July 6th, 2015

2015 Team Canada.1lr Canada takes the Gold Medal at 14th ISF Men’s World Softball Championship. The team includes Ryan Boland, Sean Cleary, Paul Koert, Devon McCullough, Andy Skelton, Bryan Abrey, Jason Sanford, Ian Fehrman, Brandon Horn, Derek Mason, Kevin Schellenberg, Jeff Ellsworth, Brad Ezekiel, Steve Mullaley, Mathieu Roy, Ryan Wolfe, Jason Hill, and the coaching staff of Glenn Boles, Adam Davies, John Hill, Les Howey, and Head Coach John Stuart.

SASKATOON, SK, Canada – There is good hitting, great hitting, and on the rarest of occasions, phenomenal hitting.

What Steve Mullaley did in the championship game of the 14th ISF Men’s World Softball Championship will long live in Canada fastpitch lore, and in the memories of those who witnessed his incredible batting feat.

Mullaley belted three home runs – a solo shot, a grand slam, and a two-run blast – that tallied seven RBI, as Canada slugged its way to a 10-5 victory over the New Zealand Black Sox to claim the Gold Medal at Bob Van Impe Stadium, Sunday.

His seven RBI and Canada’s ten runs are believed to be International Softball Federation single game records since the world championship began in 1966.

    NO STRANGERS IN ISF CHAMPIONSHIP PLAY

The championship becomes Canada’s fourth ISF title, and the first since 1992 when Team Canada beat New Zealand for the Gold. The two teams have now met five times to decide the Gold Medal, with New Zealand claiming three, and Canada two.

Steve Mullaley hit three home runs accounting for seven RBI in helping Team Canada win the Gold Medal.

Steve Mullaley hit three home runs accounting for seven RBI in helping Team Canada win the Gold Medal.

For Mullaley, though, the victory over the defending 2013 world champion Black Sox was a team effort. The victory also eases the disappointment of expecting but failing to medal in the world championship in New Zealand.

“We knew coming in today that the big red machine could get it done,” Mullaley said to Ballpark Radio interviewer Blair Setford during post-game ceremonies. “We traveled a long way to New Zealand in 2013 and we were disappointed. But we’ve had a new commitment of buying into the team concept to get it done.”

    NEW ZEALAND STARTS STRONG

But in the early going, it looked like New Zealand would be the team getting it done. The Black Sox jumped out to a 5-0 lead into the third inning on Thomas Enoka’s three RBI on a single and double, along with brother Ben Enoka’s solo homer, and a bases loaded walk to Joel Evans.

Sean Cleary started for Canada, and from the outset, New Zealand was on target, scoring four runs off the right-hander in the first three innings. After Thomas Enoka’s double, Canada Head Coach John Stuart called on Devon McCullough to stop or at least slow down New Zealand’s momentum.

    HOMETOWN FASTBALL HERO

And McCullough, a Saskatoon native, stymied the Black Sox over the final four innings, picking up the win by allowing just one run (the bases loaded walk to Evans) on one hit with eight strikeouts.

The right-hander finished the game with a pair of strikeouts to the delirious joy of his hometown fans as they stood cheering his efforts.

Devon McCullough pitched a terrific four innings of relief against New Zealand.

Devon McCullough pitched a terrific four innings of relief against New Zealand.

While McCullough was holding New Zealand in check, Mullaley and his teammates were busting loose on the Black Sox pitching. Starter, Heinrick Shannon, had shutout Canada in the first and second innings.

But that changed in the third.

    CANADA STARTS RALLY

Brandon Horn blasted a double into left-centerfield, Mathieu Roy drove him in with a single, and Brad Ezekiel drilled a two-run homer over the centerfield fence. Then up to the plate stepped cleanup hitter, Mullaley. And he launched a solo shot over the right-field fence to pull Canada within one.

One out later, and Derek Mason drilled a Shannon offering into right field, bringing New Zealand Head Coach Mark Sorenson to the circle. He opted to go with Nick Hayes, who got a strikeout to end the inning.

But disaster would befall Hayes and New Zealand in the fourth. Hayes struggled with his control and walked Horn, Roy and Ezekiel to load the bases. And again, Sorenson made the trip to the circle. This time reentering Shannon.

    MULLALEY SLUGS GRAND SLAM

And one out later, Mullaley stepped into the batter’s box. This time he caught up with a Shannon rise ball sending it flying over the centerfield fence for a grand slam, driving Canada ahead, 8-5.

But the Canadians – who pounded out 11 hits – continued the offensive onslaught in the sixth. And yet again Mullaley did the damage by hammering the ball over the left-field fence, with Ezekiel aboard by way of a leadoff walk.

Then it was up to McCullough to close out the game. And he did in strikeout fashion, notching his seventh and eighth. Seconds later, the celebration began.

    JOY IN SASKATOON

An elated Team Canada rejoiced in its championship by trotting around the stadium with the Canadian flag raised high. They hand slapped and high-fived some of the 7,000 fans in attendance who lined the field, reaching out to their country’s world championship heroes.

For Ryan Wolfe, a veteran on the team, winning the championship on home soil in front of nearly 60,000 fans that attended the games over 10 days, was especially pleasing.

“World champions sounds pretty darn good,” he said. “We’ve worked hard and long hours. This was our goal and we had the team to get it done.”

Team Canada finishes the world championship with a 7-0 record and first place in Pool A, and 3-1 in the championship round. Silver Medalist, New Zealand, finished fourth in Pool B at 5-2, and 2-1 in the championship round. While Venezuela, 3-1 in the playoffs, 5-2 and third place in Pool B, takes home the Bronze Medal.

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