Gortarez, Baltzell homers spark U.S. past Canada


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USA catcher Anna Kiimbrell reacts after hitting a double during Wednesday night's game against Canada in the Women's Baseball World Cup tournament at the USSSA Space Coast Complex. The USA won 5-1.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

There was something different about the United States women’s baseball team Wednesday night.

That was evident from the start.

Jade Gortarez hit a three-run home run and Megan Baltzell blasted a solo shot as Team USA defeated Canada 5-1 at the Women’s Baseball World Cup at the USSSA Space Coast Complex.

The win kept alive the USA’s chances for a spot in the gold medal game and was a stark contrast to the way the team played a night earlier when they managed just one hit in a 3-0 loss to Japan.

 “They knew (Tuesday) night wasn’t who they were, especially offensively,” U.S. manager Matt Weagle said. “I think they took it personal and went up there ready to swing the bat.”

While Japan – which defeated Chinese Taipei 2-1 Wednesday to run it its World Cup win streak to 28 – has already qualified for Friday’s gold medal game, the rest of the tournament is still up in the air.

In order for the U.S. to get in the mix for the title game, it has to beat the Dominican Republic Thursday at 6 p.m. and hope Canada can beat Chinese Taipei. That could create a three-way tie for second place where, Weagle believes, run differential could come into play.

“At the end of the day, it all comes down to we have to beat Dominicn,” Weagle said.

For the second night in a row, Team USA found itself trailing 1-0 after the first inning.

This time, however, it didn’t take the Americans long to bounce right back.

Kyleee Lahners led off the top of the second with a double and went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Anna Kimbrell. After Brittany Gomez was hit by a pitch, Jade Gortarez hit a three-run homer over the left-field fence.

“It was similar to (Tuesday) night in the fact that they scored early on us,” Weagle said. “The difference was, we didn’t fold.

“We went right back at ‘em. That’s what you like to see. That’s the type of team I think we have. It’s good to see it on the field.”

Leading 3-1 after the second inning, the U.S. made it 4-1 when Baltzell launched her second home run of the tournament to lead off the third inning.

Team USA would get another run that inning on a single by Michelle Cobb, a double by Kimbrell and a fielding error by Canada that made it a 5-1 game.

The rest was up to USA pitcher Marti Sementelli, who allowed three hits over six innings. Meggie Meidlinger worked the seventh for the save.

“Marti’s effort can’t go unnoticed,” Weagle said. “She threw a great game her first game out there (against The Netherlands) and then to come back on three days rest and do this is something special.

“She’s a strike thrower. She throws a lot of pitches for strikes and … she’s got a lot of fight in her.”

Thanks to a bounce back game against the No. 2 ranked team in the world Wednesday night, the U.S. still has something to fight for.