Sask. pitchers throwing their all into World Baseball Classic for Canada

This year, two Saskatchewan pitchers are signed up to play for Canada at the World Baseball Classic tournament, including Regina's Dustin Molleken and Andrew Albers from North Battleford, Sask.

Team takes a hit against Dominican Republic in its 1st game of the tournament

Saskatchewan natives Andrew Albers and Dustin Molleken are two pitchers with Major League Baseball experience who are with Team Canada at the World Baseball Classic this year. (Canadian Press/Detroit Tigers)

For baseball players, the World Baseball Classic is something special.

The tournament is considered the premiere international baseball tournament and only happens every four years. 

Not only that, it gives players the chance to join baseball's cream of the crop in representing their home countries.  

This year, two Saskatchewan pitchers are getting to be part of it. Regina's Dustin Molleken and Andrew Albers from North Battleford, Sask., are both signed up for the team.

"I think it's a pretty big deal for a lot of guys and guys that play really take pride in getting that opportunity and getting to play for their countries," Albers said.  

Albers said they call their teammates this year "grinders".

"We play hard. We're gonna get after it. We're gonna do whatever we can do help the team win," Albers said. 

He said he's finding his fellow players unselfish, and willing to take a hit if it means helping the team edge ahead. 

Slow start against top team

On Thursday night, the pair helped take on the Dominican Republic for its first game of the tournament. 

Canada couldn't pull off a win against this year's favourite, though, losing 9-2 in the Pool C opener at Marlins Park in Miami, FL.

In an interview on CBC Radio's The Morning Edition, Molleken said he thinks it'll be the toughest game they face in the tournament. 

"It was a tough one. They're something special on the other side over there," Molleken said, about a team that includes the Toronto Blue Jay's Jose Bautista.    

Jose Bautista hits a three-run home run against Canada in the Dominican Republic's 9-2 win in their World Baseball Classic opener. (Lynne Sladky/The Associated Press)
What we got to do is stick to a tactic.- Dustin Molleken, pitcher

The loss isn't discouraging Molleken. He's now setting his sight to the next game, against Columbia on Saturday at 11 a.m. CST.

"What we got to do is stick to a tactic, go after these guys and hope we can come out with a W," Molleken said. 

After the tournament, both pitchers will return to their regular baseball careers. 

Albers signed a contract with the Atlanta Braves in December, and Molleken with the Detroit Tigers in November.     

With files from CBC Radio's The Morning Edition and Simon Roberge