Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

HERO – Members of Team Canada celebrate with Tyson Zehr, left, after his game-winning double last night.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

TOO LATE – Canadian first baseman Johnny Baker catches a ball Sunday night, forcing out a USA runner at the bag.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

CROWDING IN – Fans line the outfield fence and rooftops to catch a glimpse of the Canada-USA game at the Pepsi Softball Centre Sunday night.

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Photo by Marcel Vander Wier

HUDDLING UP – Members of Team Canada embrace prior to taking the field vs. the USA Sunday night.

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Photo by Marcel Vander Wier

EYES IT UP – USA batter James Pernetti connects on a pitch from Canadian Tyler Randerson Sunday night while catcher Taylor Schubada looks on.

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Photo by Marcel Vander Wier

WARMING UP – Canadian Josh Elliot hits a ball to his teammates as they prepare to take on the USA Sunday night.

Canada’s Zehr provides heroics in walkoff victory over USA

After their 7-1 lead evaporated in the top of the seventh inning last night, Team Canada needed a hero.

By Marcel Vander Wier on July 14, 2014

After their 7-1 lead evaporated in the top of the seventh inning last night, Team Canada needed a hero.

Tyson Zehr, a 19-year-old infielder from Tavistock, Ont., seized the moment, hitting a bases-loaded double over the American left-fielder’s head to give the hosts a 9-8 walkoff victory and push their record to 2-1.

“I knew I had to hit it deep, and it just kept going,” Zehr said of his winning hit. “There were chills running through my body.

“But it wouldn’t have mattered if the four guys before me wouldn’t have got on base.”

The Canadians cruised into the top of the seventh – the final inning in softball play – when 17-year-old starting pitcher Tyler Randerson and the infield defence started to come unravelled.

After a quick first out, two hits to right field were followed by an error, a single and two walks as the U.S. shaved the lead to 7-4.

Randerson then induced a groundball back to him, but his throw to home was offline, allowing two more Americans to score.

Randerson, a right-hander from New Hamburg, Ont., had given up a solo homer to U.S. slugger Justin Perez an inning earlier.

With the game coming unglued, Canadian coach Jim Jones turned to the team’s lone Newfoundlander, pitcher Eric Healey, to get them out of the jam.

In his first appearance, the groundball specialist struck out the first batter he faced for the second out of the inning, but then bobbled a slow groundball on which the Americans tied the game 7-7.

Another walk and an infield hit gave the U.S. their first lead of the game, 8-7, before Healey finally closed out the inning.

“I went out with a lot of energy in my head, so I had to take a couple of deep breaths before I started pitching,” Healey admitted post-game. “It’s great to know they have faith in me.”

Healey, an 18-year-old from Chapels Cove, Nfld., would go on to record the win.

In the bottom of the frame, Canada’s leader Taylor Schubada hit a ground-rule double, and went on to tie the game on a Curtis Piecowye single.

A single from Johnny Baker and a walk to pinch-hitter Josh Elliot loaded the bases for Zehr, the star of the Tavistock Athletics.

“Canadians never quit,” Zehr said of the game-winning rally. “We have heart. We knew that wasn’t the end when they started getting runs.”

“We’ve got a motto ‘Never give up,’” Jones said moments after the thriller. “It’s not how I would like to draw it up by any means, but it worked out. We’ll learn from it.”

The Canadians’ struggle to control their nerves in front of the large crowds continued last night.

“You forget that they’re 17 and 18 years old and play in front of 50 people all the time,” Jones said. “That’s what pressure does.”

If Canada hadn’t won yesterday, they would have had to beat one of New Zealand or Japan to remain in the hunt – a much tougher task. Argentina, New Zealand, and Japan remain unbeaten early in the tournament.

Despite the loss, U.S. slugger Perez was still smiling post-game.

“We fought back tremendously,” the 17-year-old from Erie, Pa., told the Star. “In all sports, that’s what the USA is all about – just fighting back. We had one hit going into the seventh and we scored seven. That’s a huge answer back.

“It’s one of the best games I’ve ever been in, to tell you the truth.”

Comments (2)

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Kerrie Cober on Jul 15, 2014 at 7:44 am

Our small Canadian townships have proven it is heart and determination to do the very best they can.......Volunteers through the years have a part in this victory..........I do have to add........Tyson and my son are rooming together this fall at Western.........small townships rock!

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Sonya KOLLMAN on Jul 14, 2014 at 6:17 pm

Way to go Tyson ! Tavistock, Ont. Will be proud!! Hope to see you when you return. Hope you enjoy Whitehorse, a great place to live!

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