In scenes almost reminiscent of their first game at Tokyo 2020, the Aussie Spirit suffered their second loss of the tournament, going down to Canada 7-1. For all your Tokyo 2020 coverage, stay tuned to The Inner Sanctum’s Olympic hub and the Olympics Central.
Each team went into this game with one win and one loss, however it was Canada that improved its record at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Canada continued putting itself into multiple situations to claim victory early but a spirited effort from Australia kept the game ticking along.
Similar to their two previous games, the Spirit got on the scoreboard first via a bases-loaded walk to Jade Wall that allowed Stacey Porter to cross home plate.
Though that would be where Australia’s run-scoring ended as Canada piled on six runs within the first two innings with consecutive three-run efforts. Canada added a seventh run to its score in the fourth and never looked back as it closed out any Australian threat to come back.
Australia’s first three batters managed to get on base with lead-off Leigh Godfrey singling to rightfield, progressing to third base on a Stacey Porter ground rule double.
Taylah Tsitsikronis was hit by a pitch to have the bases loaded though Canada got the leading running Godfrey out on a force at home from a Chelsea Forkin hit.
The Aussie Spirit claimed the first run of the game via a base on balls that was delivered to Wall, prompting Porter to cross home safely. Michelle Cox and Rachel Lack each struck out looking to end Australia’s offensive half of the inning.
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Ellen Roberts was given the task to start with the ball in hand and gave up a walk to Canada’s lead-off batter Victoria Hayward.
Canada struck a run back and evened the game when Hayward who, on the previous pitch stole second, advanced home on a Larissa Franklin bunt that Porter errored throwing to first base.
Franklin made it to second base and another walk from Roberts to Kelsey Harshman had Canada in a good position and each of them then got into scoring positions with a Kaleigh Rafter sacrifice bunt.
Canada scored two more runs on a Jenn Salling ground rule double that flew over the head of Godfrey in centrefield. It forced Spirit coach Laing Harrow to bring Gabrielle Plain on to pitch and replace Roberts.
Australia managed to hang in the game and despite Canada having runners in scoring positions, was able to get the next two batters to ground out and take a two-run deficit into the second innings.
Clare Warwick hit a first-pitch single into leftfield to start the offense for Australia in the second innings. Stacey McManus singled on a fly ball to leftfield also and a sacrifice bunt by Godfrey advanced Warwick and McManus.
Porter was intentionally walked by the Canadian coaching staff, loading up the bases and after doing so, Jenna Caira entered into the game to pitch for Canada. Tsitsikronis struck out and Forkin grounded out to leave runners stranded yet again.
Lead-off singles to Janet Leung and Hayward started things for Canada at the bottom of the second. Leung scored on a throwing error as Canada loaded the bases once more, the score becoming 6-1 with a two-out ground rule double to Erika Polidori before Australia claimed the final out.
Australia was sent back into the field when it went three-up, three-down at the top of the third, Canadian pitcher Caira striking out two within that frame. Canada went down in order as well in the bottom half, Australia’s defensive efforts not allowing any runs from the Canadian side.
In Australia’s fourth turn at the plate it saw three hitters ground out consecutively once more to send the team back onto the field.
Larissa Franklin flew out to leftfield for Canada but the team found a lead-off runner through Harshman who singled towards the same spot. After another flyout and two consecutive walks, Salling was caught in a run-down play but not before Harshman’s run home counted first.
Porter grounded out to begin the top half of the fifth inning before Tsitsikronis got on base with a single to centrefield. Tsitsikronis advanced to second on a Belinda White single into centrefield too although Wall grounded into a double play to end the threat.
Australia was able to keep the game alive, not allowing its opponents to secure a run at the bottom of the fifth that would’ve ended the game. Instead, the Spirit retired the first two Canadian hitters before Plain walked Hayward but it wouldn’t come to hurt them as Franklin lined out to McManus at second.
Cox lined out to start the sixth inning and a Tarni Stepto pinch-hit wouldn’t come to work for the Spirit as she flew out to rightfield. Warwick hit the ball out in the same direction for the same result to end the Spirit’s dig.
A lead-off single into rightfield from Harshman began Canada’s second attempt for a mercy walk-off and she advanced to second on a Rafter sacrifice bunt for the first out.
Salling was walked before the winning run Harshman, on a wild pitch, ended up just 60 feet away from home.
Polidori skied a ball into shallow rightfield which was caught by Cox, who, with a heads-up play, threw to the plate where White was able to tag Harshman in time to send the game into the seventh inning.
Australia’s last chance with the bats saw the hitters facing a new pitcher, Lauren Regula, who had the Leah Parry lining out to shortstop and Godfrey striking out looking for the first two outs.
The Spirit’s last hope laid in the hands of captain Porter, and although she connected well, Canada’s centrefielder Franklin took the catch with her back to the wall, bringing the game to an end.
Canada’s starting pitcher Sara Groenewegen managed 1.1 innings on the mound for four hits, one run and two strikeouts.
Caira got the win for Canada, pitching 4.2 innings, giving up two hits with three strikeouts while it was Regula who closed out the game.
Harshman and Polidori each collected two hits for Canada throughout the game with the former scoring three of Canada’s seven runs for the game. Hayward scored two runs from one hit and two base on balls.
On the Aussies side, losing pitcher Roberts, after 0.1 innings was relieved of her pitching duties after giving up two runs from three hits and two walks.
Gabrielle Plain entered for the first time this Olympic campaign, pitching 5.2 innings for one earned run from seven hits.
Six Australian batters found hits during the game, Wall credited with the RBI on the lone run from Porter.
The result sees the two nations switch places on the standings with two games to come in the day. Canada is now holding onto third place while Australia sits fourth with two days of regular competition to go before the bronze and gold medal games.
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