Game 8
Canada 2 vs. Mexico 0

Saturday, August 20, 2005
6:00PM ET
Volunteer Stadium

Canada has a fiesta with Mexico
Chris Fischer shuts out Mexicali in a continental showdown

By Allie Weinberger

Canada skipper Glenn Morache boasts strong pitchers, and strong pitching is exactly what showed up when stud Chris Fischer took the mound Saturday night at Volunteer Stadium.

The 12-year-old tossed a shutout and allowed just two hits in Canada’s 2-0 victory over the Seguro Social Little League of Mexicali, Mexico.

So in the non-American North America battle, its Canada – 1, Mexico – 0, as the Whalley Little League of Surrey, British Columbia put a tally in the win column.

Canada’s win in front of 4,425 spectators is significant for the Canadian ballplayers.

“The first one’s a big one,” said Morache. “You always want to get the first one.”

After two quick groundouts to start the game, Canada’s Chris Fischer hit a hard single that skipped over the glove of second baseman Nordan Gomez and into right field for the first hit of the game.

Mexicali pitcher Jose Valenzuela, who recorded a complete game himself, got first baseman Jeff Degano to ground out to shortstop Julio Arcineiga and end the inning.

But Team Canada was strong defensively from the minute they left the dugout. After Mexico leadoff man Kristian Delgado popped out to right field, Gomez hit a single up the middle that bounced just to the right of the second base bag and into center field.

Outs two and three came off the very next play, when Arciniega’s hit was caught in air by third baseman Nick Rohla and thrown to first in time to tag Gomez out before he made it back to the bag.

With one out in the top of the second, Mexico’s shortstop made a great play to block Justin Atkinson’s hit from leaving the infield. Arciniega showcased an Ozzie Smith-type catch and an equally strong throw, but was beat out by Atkinson’s speed.

Atkinson’s hit was the first in a series of hot Canadian bats.

Catcher Carlos Camano was unable to make a play on Richard Lankmayr’s blooper that rolled between the mound and the plate, moving Atkinson to second with one out. Then, Canadian catcher Matt Catonio hit one that sailed over the second base bag and fell into shallow center field, loading the bases for left fielder Nathan de la Feraude.

Batting in the nine spot, the left fielder hit a bouncer that hopped over the outstretched glove of third baseman Kevin Garcia and into left field for an RBI single. Tanner Morache’s sacrifice fly to left then allowed Lankmayr to score from third.

Valenzuela got out of the inning on Conrad Gallagher’s infield grounder, but not before Canada had put two runs on the scoreboard.

But after that, both teams’ bats froze up.

Fischer got in a jam in the bottom of the second, giving up back-to-back walks to Mexico’s Mario Rosas and Garcia before striking Camano out looking.

Mexicali’s right fielder Vicente Ayala accounted for the second out with a fly out caught in shallow left field by Atkinson at shortstop. After regaining his composure, Fischer finished out the inning with an Edgar Calderas strikeout.

“You can’t take anything away from the pitcher from Canada,” said Mexico’s manager Juan Minor through interpreter Micah Hughes. “He threw a great game.”

In the top of the third, Whalley first baseman Jeff Degano registered the game’s only extra-base hit with a long fly ball that fell just short of the 205-foot right field wall. Degano trotted easily into second as the ball hit the back edge of the warning track.

Two batters later, a line drive off the bat of Atkinson hit the lip of pitcher Jose Valenzuela’s glove before bouncing onto the ground. But the speedy shortstop reached first before Mexico’s hurler could pick the ball back up.

With runners on the corners and two outs, Camano sent a rocket to second and gunned down Atkinson, who was stealing second, with plenty of time to make the tag and end the inning.

Starting the bottom of the third with a spectacular diving catch in center field, Conrad Gallagher robbed Valenzuela of a single. A Kristian Delgado infield bouncer made the second out of the inning and kept the bases empty for Gomez, who looped a single into shallow left.

When Arciniega’s line drive shot skidded past Degano’s right knee, Morache sprinted to the first baseline and blocked the ball for the second stellar play of the matchup. His quick hands spun around and tossed the ball to Degano in time to get Arcineiga at first.

“Our defense has kept us in the games throughout the 20 we’ve played,” said the Canadian skipper. “They showed it again tonight.”

Lankmayr, who led off the fourth inning for Canada, reached first on a shallow right field single and advanced to second on Valenzuela’s passed ball two batters later. The top half of the fourth ended after Morache flied out to center, leaving Lankmayr stranded in scoring position.

With the 2-0 lead, Fischer returned to the rubber for the bottom of the fourth and made three quick outs to close the inning.

Canada started the top of the fifth with two quick swinging strikeouts. Degano followed with a single to right field, but was stranded after a Mitchell Burns strikeout retired the side.

“They played well,” Morache said of his team after the game. “Just a little rusty with the bats.”

But the two runs Canada scored in the second would prove to be enough.

Fischer’s arm began to show fatigue in the fifth, as Edgar Lopez drew a third walk out of the Canadian thrower. Two batters later, Fischer offered Erick Ochoa a full count with a runner on second before getting him to hit an easy grounder to short.

In the top of the sixth, Atkinson showed off his speed once more, almost beating Juan Pena’s throw to first after a routine one-hopper to short.

A great leaping grab by Garcia at third base robbed Alex Dunbar of a single before Talon Van Horn stuck out swinging and ended Canada’s offensive efforts for the day.

Fischer took the mound for the last three outs with a two-run security cushion. Fischer got Gomez swinging for the first out of the inning and fourth strikeout of the game.

And in a game full of great fielding plays, Lankmayr sure saved the best for last. The five-foot-one right fielder made a major league catch, diving headfirst into foul territory to get under Juan Pena’s foul ball.

“I was just running for the ball, said Lankmayr. “I didn’t know if it was foul or fair, so I just dove. It was just natural.”

Fischer finished off his two-hit shutout of the Mexican marvels with a Rosas strikeout.

“My team cannot make contact with this pitcher,” said Minor, whose power hitters Rosas and Camano combined to go hitless in three at-bats with one walk. “He has a great curveball that they just couldn’t catch up with.”

But Fischer’s elusive curveball is new to his pitching repertoire.

“Last year I tried throwing it,” the young hurler said, “but I had a sore neck ‘cause everyone kept hitting it.”

But for the Canadian All-Stars, the Little League Baseball World Series is all about the fun and the friends.

“We’re really just friends with Mexico,” said Fischer. “I try to learn Spanish. It’s hard.”

And as for Mexico, they aren’t worried in the least.

According to Minor, this is the fourth time Mexico has come to the Series and lost its first game.

“So I think they’re just used to it,” said interpreter Micah Hughes for the Mexico skipper. “After they lose the first one, they don’t ever lose again.”

But Canada is just as ready to take this team all the way, and Fischer isn’t afraid to show it.

“I’m really excited to play the team that makes it to the finals,” he said with smile.

Game Photos

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