Defending world champion Canada knocks off the United States to claim Vancouver Challenge

Written by Bob on July 3rd, 2017

Devon McCullough pitched a one-hitter in leading Canada to a 4-0 victory over the United States in the Vancouver Challenge championship, July 3, in Vancouver, BC. Photo By BOB OTTO / 2014 NAFA World Series

VANCOUVER, BC, Canada – Is Canada peaking at the right time for the Men’s Softball World Championship?

All indications that the Canadians are poised to make a strong run at defending their 2015 title was evident after an impressive performance in the Vancouver Challenge that featured several of the world’s best teams.

Canada ran roughshod in the tournament by outscoring its opponents 54-6, while posting a 7-0 record, including a 4-0 victory over the United States in the championship.

That perfect mark also includes a 10-3 hammering of the world’s No. 1 ranked New Zealand Black Sox in the semi-finals.

In the 2015 world championship, Canada had a near identical performance by rocking New Zealand, 10-5, to take the title.

In the Vancouver Challenge title game, Canada seized upon a bases-loaded hit batter (Derek Mayson) and Andy Skelton’s run-scoring sacrifice fly to plate a pair of runs in the first inning. And Skelton sealed the win with a two-run homer in the sixth.

The Canadians didn’t exactly pound the ball in getting just four hits with Brandon Horn, Blake Hunter, Shane Boland and Skelton with a hit each.

But with stellar performances by two of Canada’s best fastball pitchers, a couple runs will usually do.

And it was as Devon McCullough and Sean Clearly teamed-up to hold Team USA to one hit by Matt Ratliff, who led off the game with a double off McCullough. But McCullough put a lock on home plate by striking out the next two batters and getting a fly ball to end the threat.

The hard-throwing right-hander from Saskatoon pitched five innings with eight strikeouts and a walk, and then handed the ball to Cleary, who over the final two frames, tossed a no-hitter and struck out five.

USA Men’s National Team pitcher Duane Weiler of Bedford, Penn. hurls a pitch during the USA Softball Men’s National Invitational Fast Pitch Tournament in Ashland, Ohio, June 9-11. Photo courtesy of USA Softball

Jeremy Manley hurled the first inning for Team USA allowing two runs before being relieved by Duane Weiler the rest of the way. The left-hander from Bedford, Penn., enjoying his promotion to the USA national team, was impressive, giving up two runs on two hits with four strikeouts.

Team USA finishes the tournament at 5-2, 18-2 overall in leading up to the world championship that runs from July 7-16 at the Pepsi Softball Centre in Whitehorse, Canada.

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