The USA Softball Men’s National Slow Pitch Team came from behind to defeat Canada, 32-21, on Saturday in the Border Battle IV at the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) Hall of Fame Stadium. The Americans used 34 hits to score the 32 runs and capitalized off of two key errors from Canada to capture Team USA’s third Border Battle title in the event’s four-year history.
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“We got off to a slow start coming out flat the first couple of innings,” said USA head coach Steve Shortland. “These guys showed some real heart in the way they battled back. I am really proud of the way they continued to fight and pulled out the win.”
Canada jumped out to an early 4-0 lead with three home runs in the top of the first inning. Two of the three home runs were solo shots, while Todd Cadenhead’s two-run shot scored Frank Henry, who had reached on a double. Team USA cut the lead in half in the bottom of the first on a two-run home run from Brett Helmer (Cicero, N.Y.).
Canada tacked on three more runs in the top of the second as Jeff Gare and Al Blais reached on back-to-back singles before Chris Parr blasted the fourth home run of the game for the Canadians. A great defensive play from Don Dedonatis, Jr. (Kissimmee, Fla.) ended any additional threat from Canada as Team USA got out of the inning with a double play.
Team USA pitcher Andy Purcell (Kissimmee, Fla.) reached on a single to start the second and scored on Johnny McCraw’s (Lake Wylie, S.C.) home run to score two more runs for the Americans.
Canada added two runs on an RBI double from Tim Bentley and a sacrifice fly from Gare to push its lead to 9-4 after three innings.
Canada then pushed across nine runs in the top of the fourth. Cadenhead hit his second multi-RBI home run of the game and Parr added another one as the Canadians went up 18-4 after four innings.
The Americans mounted a comeback in the bottom of the fourth as Team USA exploded for 20 runs to take a 24-18 lead. Home runs from Kevin Rainwater (Kathleen, Ga.), Brian Wegman (Hamilton, Ohio), Andy Purcell, Rick Baker (West Harrison, Ind.) and Dennis Rulli (Moorpark, Calif.) fueled the charge as two Canadian errors allowed 14 unearned runs to cross the plate.
Team USA added eight runs in the bottom of the sixth as home runs by Greg Connell (Moultrie, Ga.) and Rulli led to the 12-run lead. Following Canada’s nine-run fourth inning, Team USA held the Canadians to just three runs in the final three innings.
Geno Buck (Red Wing, Minn.) picked up the win for Team USA in relief. Buck pitched one inning, holding Canada to three runs on five hits. Parr picked up the loss for Canada, pitching 3.2 innings and allowing 24 runs on 22 hits.
Henry and Cadenhead each went 4-for-5 for Canada with three runs scored. Cadenhead’s three home runs and six RBIs were the most by any player on the day. Connell went 4-for-5 for Team USA, as did R. Baker. Connell also had six RBIs.