The tables were turned this year and the USA Softball Men’s National Slow Pitch Team took advantage to register a 25-3 win in four innings over Team Canada in Border Battle III at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium before a crowd of about 500 Saturday.
After Canada was retired in order in the top of the first, the USA exploded for 10 runs on 11 hits. Five of the hits were home runs and USA Head Coach Steve Shortland was hoping to not use that many homers early. With a homer limit of 10, Shortland obviously wanted to keep the homers for later in the game if they were needed and with multiple runners on base. Three of the five USA homers were solo shots (Greg Connell (Moultrie, Ga.), Rusty Bumgardner (Gastonia, N.C.) and Bryson Baker (Magalia, Calif.) with winning pitcher Andy Purcell (Naples, Fla.) hitting a three-run shot and Brett Helmer (Cicero, N.Y.) a two-run blast.
”It was fortunate they started slow against us,” said Shortland. “We didn’t want to use a lot of homers early but it worked out for us.”
Team Canada, which had 10 players returning from last year, never got untracked against the USA and went down in order the first two innings and didn’t score until the third inning. By then, Canada trailed 15-0 before scoring all its runs in the third. The USA, however, answered with 10 runs on 10 hits in the bottom of the inning.
Team Canada hit only one homer while the USA smashed nine. Team Canada collected only four hits while the USA registered 28 in an impressive performance.
Besides having trouble on offense, Canada struggled on defense, making four errors to one for the USA. The USA’s Dennis Rulli (Moorpark, Calif.) played both ends of the game well, going two-for-three with four RBI and starring on defense at third with five of the 10 USA assists.
All of the USA starters had at least two hits with Brian Wegman (Hamilton, Ohio), Baker, Bumgardner, Johnny McCraw (Wylie, S.C.) and Brian Rainwater (Kathleen, Ga.) having three hits apiece. Bumgardner had five RBI, with Purcell and Rulli having four each. Purcell delivered 54 pitches to 15 batters in the game which took one hour as the USA now leads the series, 2-1.
Besides starting fast this year, the USA “didn’t have a letdown” this year, according to USA Assistant Coach Raper. “Our defense was unbelievable and we came in this game with a chip on our shoulder. No way was it going to happen again (The USA losing).”
Canada Coach Jeff Seguin watched as his team never got going against the USA.”We knew it would take an incredible effort to beat them,” said Seguin.”We have had better days. We are hoping to get another shot at them next year.”
In nine games the USA scored 256 runs and allowed only 94. The win Saturday was the ninth in a row for the USA, which had six run rule victories this year, but the one Saturday meant the most.