Caira shines in relief as Canada gets key win over Australia

Caira shines in relief as Canada gets key win over Australia
Caira pitched 4.2 scoreless innings in relief, while giving up two hits to win the game. She struck out three.

Jenna Caira silenced Australia’s bats for 4.2 innings while Jenn Salling and Erika Polidori produced a pair of runs to steer Canada to their second win of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Canada took advantage of their opportunities in the first part of the game to take an early lead and never looked back.

The lack of clutch hitting and bad defence harmed Australia in the first part of the game and they could never come back. They loaded the bases in the first two innings, but only produced one run on a walk, going 0-for-5 with the bases loaded with three strikeouts. On defence, a pair of errors in each of the first two innings allowed Canada to score four unearned runs and take control of the match. 

Australia started the game with back to back hits -a single by Leigh Godfrey and a double by Stacey Porter- and then Taylah Tsitsikronis was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs. However, they couldn’t take advantage of the situation, scoring only one run on a base on balls to Jade Wall. Canadian shortstop Janet Leung had forced the first out at home plate with a beautiful play, and Sara Groenewegen limited the damage with back to back strikeouts.

In the home half of the first, Canada answered with three runs on their own to take the lead 3-1 after one complete inning. Victoria Hayward scored on a throwing error by Porter, and later Jenn Salling sent a two-run ground-rule double to center field to plate Larissa Franklin and Kelsey Harshman.

Australia loaded the bases again in the second inning, but this time the team from Oceania ended empty-handed. With one out and three runners on, Jenna Caira replaced Groenewegen in the circle for Canada, and she got Tsitsikronis on strikes after a long battle, and moments later Chelsea Forkin lined out to first base to end the inning. 

Canada doubled their runs in the second, thanks to an error by first baseman Forkin assisting second base for a double play, and another two-RBI ground-rule double to center field, this time off the bat of Polidori. 

Canada added one more run in the fourth inning with a bases loaded RBI single by Emma Entzminger that stretched the lead to 7-1.

The winner of the game was Caira, who pitched 4.2 scoreless innings in relief, while giving up two hits. She struck out three. The loss was charged to Ellen Roberts, who only retired one batter and allowed one hit and three runs, two of them earned. Gabbie Plain made her Olympic debut in relief of 5.2 frames, giving up seven hits and four runs, with five walks and one strike out.

Canada moved to 2-1 and remain in a good position to fight for one of the top two spots in the standings, while Australia’s record is now 1-2. Canada will play Japan tomorrow, while Australia will take on USA.